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Love Thy Neighbor Choir
Mary Banta of Bloomington sang during a practice of The Love Thy Neighbor Choir at Wesley United Methodist Church, 502 E. Front St., Bloomington on Saturday April 30, 2011. The choir will give a concert May 15 to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of McLean County. (The Pantagraph/STEVE SMEDLEY)

BLOOMINGTON -- Sarah Cope and her husband, Darrell, cannot afford to buy a house in the traditional manner. But they still need a house large enough to raise their four children, ages 5 to 11.

Darrell, 37, works three jobs, and Sarah, 31, works one job, but their combined income only allows them enough to afford a 900-square-foot mobile home.

"We've learned to simplify," Sarah said. So the family was overwhelmed earlier this spring when they learned they were chosen by Habitat for Humanity of McLean County to receive a house at 1211 W. Grove St.

Part of the money for the house will come from its 15th annual Love Thy Neighbor choir concert, planned 3 p.m. Sunday at Second Presbyterian Church, 313 N. East St. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Habitat Development Director Deb Skillrud said the group hopes to raise about $22,000 from the concert, or enough to fund half of the house cost. Habitat volunteers and the Copes provide the effort and sweat equity that goes into building the house.

"We are so very thankful that so many people are willing to give up their time to help us," Sarah Cope said.

The Love Thy Neighbor Choir is about 100 volunteers from various church choirs and the State Farm Insurance Cos. community chorus.

"This is sort of a pick-up game for choir members," said choir director Mike Claver. The choir has had four rehearsals in the last two months to prepare for the concert.

Claver helped start the choir concert to benefit Habitat for Humanity and wanted to go until the choir raised $1 million.

After 15 years, Claver admits his goal may have been a little ambitious. So far, the concerts have raised about $200,000.

"Hopefully, we will pick up the pace," Claver said. "I'm surprised that 15 years has gone by this fast."


What: Love Thy Neighbor choir concert to benefit Habitat for Humanity of McLean County

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Second Presbyterian Church, 313 N. East St., Bloomington

Tickets: $5 at the door.


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