For 35 years, Trent area residents have worked to help send local youth to college.
The Trent Area Scholarship Fund has raised money through harvest event fundraisers, auctions and an annual soup and pie dinner. On March 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Trent gym, supporters will serve the last soup and pie event to pay for scholarships.
But future students won’t go without.
“We have enough that the scholarship will continue forever,” said Bette Huss, one of five committee members who are organizing the event. The others are Diane Johnson, Kara LeBrun, Edie Hinricher and Julie Baustian.
Beginning in 2001, the organization successfully raised $30,000 in 30 months, Huss said. That money is endowed with the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, which administers the scholarships. That work has led to a fund that can operate in perpetuity. The fund will continue to accept donations and memorials.
The effort to help Trent area students started as a dream for Bob Troff, Brenda May, Dawn Olson, the Rev. Rohn Peterson, Shirley Chamley, Leroy Allen and Anna Utech. For years, Chamley and Bernie Scherff organized the dinner.
“They wanted the Trent-area kids to get scholarships,” Huss said. Others got behind the effort over the years. “A lot of the success has just been the Trent community.”
During the fundraising event, for example, organizers wrote letters to businesses and residents who made donations. In the end, the Trent American Legion Post 122 donated $4,000 to meet the overall goal.
Each year at the soup and pie event, families of the most recent scholarship winners help serve the typical crowd of about 250 people. “The fund has built up through the Trent community. People have been donating soup and pie for almost 35 years,” Huss said.
This year, organizers hope people still enjoy the tradition. “We’re hoping that they will come and enjoy this last time of fellowship for the scholarship,” she said.
Duncan Antoine received a Trent scholarship in 2016 when he graduated from Flandreau High School.
“It was really an honor,” said his mother April Frost. It helped him financially to attend Mitchell Technical Institute where he is studying electrical construction and maintenance. “He’s paying his own way through school.”
Over the years, 218 students have received $65,000 in money to continue their educations. The amount awarded has varied.
This year, Monogram Foods with a location in Chandler, Minn., awarded the scholarship program a $4,000 grant through its Monogram Loves Kid Foundation. That money will all go to this year’s recipients.
Students have until March 15 to apply for the Trent foundation scholarships.
Any students who live in a specific geographical area can apply, from Highway 34 on the north to the Minnehaha County line and from the Colman road on the west to the Minnesota state line. That includes some families that have children in the Flandreau, Colman-Egan and Dell Rapids schools and also has included home-schooled students. Those who apply can be college or vocational bound.
“We’ve included everybody,” Huss said. “It’s a community thing.”