The Crusader Newspaper Group

Clock ticking on St. Sabina’s Selah choir’s dream trip to South Africa

Photo caption: It is a race against time for 19 St. Sabina Selah Youth Choir members who must raise $131,700.00 by September 14th to perform in Cape Town, South Africa or possibly lose more than $20,000 deposit and the $40,000 they have already raised. The youth are busy baking cakes and making cookies, but their September 14th deadline is fast approaching and they need major donations to help make their dream come true. (Photo by Chinta Strausberg)

In less than three weeks, the dreams, hopes, and prayers the St. Sabina Selah Youth Choir has been clinging and working towards may end in tears if they don’t raise $95,700 by September 14th and an additional $36,000 needed to perform in Cape Town, South Africa.

St. Sabina’s Selah youth choir has launched a major fundraiser to help these singers, whose ages range from 6 to 18, go to South Africa. While they are busy baking cakes and cookies while coming up with a myriad of other fundraising ideas, the clock is ticking towards their September 14th deadline which if unmet they could forfeit 100 percent of all they have raised so far.

“We are appealing to the public to help make this once-in-a-lifetime dream become a reality,” said Jacinta Warnie, Minister of Youth for the St. Sabina Church, who is working in collaboration with Father Michael L. Pfleger.

“Our St. Sabina Selah Youth Choir has sung on national TV, at the Gospel Music Festival, at the UniverSoul Circus, at Mayor Brandon Johnson’s pre-inaugural Interfaith Breakfast and at the City of Chicago’s Interfaith Indigent Memorial Service.

“But the seeds of this mission was planted in August of 2019 when we produced an online, livestreamed performance under the direction of Selah choir director Sam Williams and me,” Warnie told the Chicago Crusader.

Back then the Selah Youth Choir had partnered with their counterparts from Trinity United Church of Christ and the Oakdale Covenant Church. The three-tiered youth choir was originally known as “The Better Together Unity Choir.”

When members of a South African church, with which the Oakdale Church had a long-standing relationship, saw the Selah Youth Choir sing online, they invited them to come to South Africa. However, COVID-19 surfaced, and the trip was cancelled.

Fast forward four years and Warnie said that invitation has been renewed with the youth scheduled to sing in Cape Town just before Thanksgiving. That was the good news; however, the bad news is that the price of that trip has now increased to $2,900 per person.

“So, now, our 19-member Selah choir has the rare opportunity to perform in Cape Town, South Africa,” said Warnie. “The youth are committed and are working hard trying to raise this massive amount of money.

“However, we need to get the word out so that their dream of performing in South Africa becomes a reality and also so that we don’t forfeit the at-risk funds we already have on deposit which is $20,000,” said Warnie.

Because of the pandemic, several families had to cancel their reservations and potentially forfeit at least $300 per person in non-refundable deposits. Many of the initial three-tiered youth choirs have not returned after COVID-19 and while some representatives from those other two choirs may attend, the Selah Choir will be the only one performing in South Africa.

“Our dream trip has been scheduled for November 20-November 28, 2023, at $2,900 per person which includes airfare, hotel stay, a daily breakfast, bus transportation in Cape Town and one night’s dinner,” said Warnie.

A total of 33 people will be traveling to South Africa including 19 youths, 2 leaders, 12 parents for a group expense of $95,700. “Payment is due in full by September 14, 2023,” said Warnie. “We, individual and or family investments, have already paid $20,000 towards the trip, and we have already raised through multiple fundraisers, $40,000.” However, Warnie said they are still short at least $35,700.

“Our airline is United, and we will be staying at the Best Western Suites. Our children will have the awesome opportunity of touring the Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of the 27 years he spent at the Robben Island Prison before the fall of apartheid,” said Warnie.

The Selah Youth Choir will also tour the Botanical Gardens, the Table Mountain and a mini-concert and school supply donation at the Breede School of Skills.

St. Sabina organizers have also set up a GoFundMe account, and several restaurants are sponsoring fundraisers to help the choir meet its deadline.

On Wednesday, August 23rd, from 5 p.m., to 8 p.m., Portillo’s is hosting a fundraiser for Selah choir only at its 4020 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn, IL restaurant. However, gift card purchases, delivery orders and those placed on third party websites are excluded from the fundraiser. Online ordering is subject to availability and there is a $200 minimum fundraising sales required for the organization to receive donations. It cannot be combined with other offer codes.

On Sunday, August 27th, there will be a Buona Benefit Night for the Selah choir where 20 percent of the sales will benefit the choir. This will be held at the Buona Beverly Restaurant, 10633 S. Western Ave., Chicago, IL. Not valid with online, APP, phone orders or gift card purchases.

And, from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday, August 29th,  Stan’s Donuts, 5225 S. Harper, located in Hyde Park, is hosting a fundraiser for the Selah choir. Customers are to present the flyer on their phones at the register or order ahead online for pickup using the promo code FUN2023 where 20 percent of the net sales will benefit the Selah Youth Choir. Online,, pre-orders are recommended.

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