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updated: 8/11/2011 10:04 AM

Elgin Symphony concert Saturday to benefit Feeding Greater Elgin

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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra will give a free concert Saturday in a way it never has before.

The orchestra has teamed up with Feeding Greater Elgin, a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting food to hungry people. Though the concert is free, donations to the nonprofit are encouraged.

Tracy Hulett, director of marketing and communications for ESO, said the orchestra used to give free concerts but stopped several years ago. Back then, the group didn't partner with any other nonprofits.

"We thought it would be a really nice way to support an organization that is just getting started in Elgin," Hulett said.

Feeding Greater Elgin formed in January, starting its services with mobile food pantries. The organization's goal always has been to find a permanent location by the end of the year so it can build its effect on the community.

"We're thinking we'll serve thousands of families every month," said Susan Ericson, executive director of Feeding Greater Elgin.

Ericson said the nonprofit probably will open its facility in the fall -- the goal is to find a warehouse that can bring a lot of food in and help people get a lot of food out. The vision is for collaborative use of the space as a "hub" so more volunteers can keep the facility open during nights and weekends.

Through a partnership with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Elgin Area School District U-46, the organization has offered families a choice of foods rather than pre-bagged groceries.

The ESO concert this weekend will help Feeding Greater Elgin carry out its mission in Elgin and South Elgin. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Wing Park Band Shell, 1000 Wing St. In case of bad weather, the symphony will perform at the same time at Larkin High School, 1475 Larkin Ave.

Hulett said the concert -- sponsored primarily by Heritage Crystal Clean Inc. -- will last a little more than an hour with classics and pop favorites on the set list. Elizabeth Norman, a renowned coloratura soprano, will perform as well, giving a free preview of what will come during ESO's holiday concert program.

For details, call Feeding Greater Elgin at (630) 768-8044 or ESO at (847) 888-4000.

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