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Sing-along will aid mission trip to Nicaragua

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The Folk Ramblers, Carl Yaffey and Bill Cohen, will lead the singing in a return appearance at North Congregational United Church of Christ, 2040 W. Henderson Road on May 24.

An old-fashioned folk music sing-along Saturday, May 24, in a Northwest Side church will help raise money that may enable children who began their lives in a garbage dump in Nicaragua take up tennis.

The Folk Ramblers -- Carl Yaffey and Bill Cohen -- will lead the singing in a return appearance at North Congregational United Church of Christ, 2040 W. Henderson Road, beginning at 7 p.m.

Donations will go toward the Nicaraguan Mission Team, which will return to the South American nation in June as part of Project Chacocente.

This time around, according to North Congregational UCC lay leader Kim Heimlich, she and others going on the mission trip plan to take sports equipment with them.

The hope is to introduce tennis and volleyball to young people, who have been rescued along with their families from living in the dump in Managua, Heimlich said.

Soccer and baseball are pretty much the only sports Project Chacocente children know, she added.

According to its website (outofthedump.org) Project Chacocente began in January 2003 in response to the pleas of a youth delegation called the Mission of Peace, which is a United Methodist-sponsored experience for high school youths who live in the Northeast.

The June trip will be the fourth for the Nicaraguan Mission Team from North UCC, Heimlich said.

Church members make the trip every two years. In June 2012, they took musical instruments, funded in part by donations received at the first Folk Duo appearance.

"It went well," Heimlich said of the earlier folk music event. "As a matter of fact, it was awesome.

"We were able to outfit an entire school band with the money we earned down in Nicaragua. They wanted to be able to participate in their independence day parade.

"I'm very excited to be able to hear them this June when we go down."

"We had a real nice spirit there," Cohen said. "Everybody was singing along."

"It's wonderful to see people enjoying it like that," Yaffey said. "The worst thing you can have is for audiences to sit there with stony expressions on their faces and their arms folded, waiting for you to make them happy.

"Believe me, that's happened."

At the May 24 sing-along, Yaffey said he and Cohen will lead audience members in such folk classics as Blowin' in the Wind, Dark as a Dungeon, Day Is Done, If I Had a Hammer and Leaving on a Jet Plane.

"We love it when people sing along," Cohen added. "We've found that people love it so much, we've decided in the last year or so to actually label the events as a sing-along so people know when they come that we're hoping they will sing along.

"We've found that there's a great feeling of community when people sit around in a circle and sing along to songs they remember from 50 years ago," he said.

"The songs conjure up fond memories for a lot of people from when they went to summer camp or church events when they were young or backyard bonfires of hayrides."

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