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Responding to Our Community’s Needs: Foundation Awards Grants to Local Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19

News from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation

In an average year, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation awards roughly 50 grants to local nonprofits through its Community Fund, an endowment supported by unrestricted gifts.

That’s in an average year.

But the year 2020? Well, so far, we know it’s anything but average.

As the Sioux Falls area prepares to rebuild entire sectors of its economy ruptured by the coronavirus pandemic, the Foundation has stepped forward to help in above-average ways — awarding more than 30 emergency grants in just the last two months to some of our community’s hardest-hit front-line nonprofits.

As the effects of COVID-19 began unfolding throughout our community, the Foundation made the decision to pivot from its traditional grantmaking to focus solely on emergency needs related to the pandemic. The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grants were designed to provide critical financial relief to community-based nonprofits who have seen an extraordinary increase in the demand for services and/or who need emergency operating support.

While the pandemic has impacted nearly every sector of society, the nonprofit sector has been hit especially hard, Foundation officials said.

“We know that nonprofits are stepping up more than ever to help our community, but many are also struggling from a lack of volunteers while also trying to meet new and changing demands for their services. From human service agencies to arts organizations, to those dedicated to serving youth and the elderly, faith-based causes and more — all nonprofits carry a heavy load, especially right now,” said Patrick Gale, vice president for community investment.

“We’re here for our community — and when our community needs us, we believe it’s our duty to step up and help in any way we can. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and it’s been our honor to award grants to these organizations who work with tireless compassion and care everyday — and especially over the last several months — to help our neighbors in need,” he said.

Adapting and Responding to the Needs of Our Community

The COVID-19 Response Grants are made possible thanks to donors who have made unrestricted gifts to the Community Fund, the Foundation’s most visionary endowment. By giving to the Community Fund, donors entrust the Foundation to award grants to community-based nonprofits who are working to address emerging, changing and pressing needs throughout the area — donors like Steve and Kris Egger, whose endowment held at the Foundation provides unrestricted support for the Community Fund.

For the Eggers, the decision to provide unrestricted support comes from their own desire to give back, as well as their trust in the Foundation’s knowledge and understanding of the community’s needs.

“My father believed in giving back and he instilled that in me. I was reviewing his checkbook when he passed away at age 91. Other than an occasional check to a utility or two, line after line in his checkbook ledger were donations to local organizations,” Steve Egger said. “Over the years, I’ve become more and more impressed with the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation — how it operates and the strong leadership of its board and staff. I know the Foundation will direct funds to where they are needed the most.”

When Walt and Martha Carlson created their legacy fund at the Foundation, they chose to designate a portion of their endowment for the Community Fund, ensuring future support for the Foundation’s grantmaking initiatives.

After serving on the Foundation’s Grants Committee as well as its Board of Directors, Martha Carlson said she developed a greater understanding of the needs that exist throughout the Sioux Falls area. She also witnessed how the Foundation works to address those needs.

“I once heard Jerry Sweetman say, ‘If you live here, you give here,’” Martha said. “That hit home for me. Over the years, I developed such trust in the Foundation because it truly does have a pulse on what the needs and opportunities are throughout Sioux Falls,” she said. “As a donor, I could see that dollars go so much further when you figure out where the greatest needs are. That led us to want to leave our family legacy gifts to the Foundation, so we know one day those funds will do ‘good, forever’ as the motto goes.”

Donors like the Eggers and the Carlsons and so many others who offer their support through unrestricted giving have enabled the Foundation to adapt and respond to the community’s changing needs, Gale said.

We’re committed to adapting and responding to our community’s changing needs by providing essential charitable capital to help when and where help is needed the most. Sometimes that’s an investment in an aspiring nonprofit who exhibits high potential to drive positive change and/or create meaningful social impact. In times like these, it’s providing emergency financial support to nonprofits who are weathering difficult challenges due to situations beyond their control.

Patrick Gale, Vice President, Community Investment

“Who could have imagined the unprecedented needs our community would face in the year 2020? But the unfortunate reality is, catastrophic events do happen. And when they do, the role of philanthropy as a catalyst for good becomes even more clear,” Gale said. “At the Community Foundation, we believe philanthropy can intersect with so many areas of our society to help create a better tomorrow.

“We are beyond grateful to the thousands of individuals and families who choose to invest in and give back to our community, we are humbled by those who believe in the mission of the Foundation and entrust us to maximize and amplify the impact of their charitable donations through unrestricted giving,” he said.

COVID-19 Response Grant Recipients

The following nonprofits are recipients of COVID-19 Response Grants. Click the arrows to read summaries of each grant:

Every week, Faith Temple Food Giveaway provides food, basic needs items and mentorship to people in and around Sioux Falls who are actively living with food insecurity and hunger.

Held every Friday at 4 p.m. at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds, the Food Giveaway has been serving more than 2,000 individuals a week, including 700 people who physically pick up food at the distribution – double the number of individuals prior to the pandemic.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will help the Food Giveaway provide more than 6,000 gallons of milk to be given away at the Friday giveaways during the summer months.

"Milk is a nutritious and sustainable resource that we are blessed to be able to give out to our community, in partnership with the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation," said Josh Hayes, assistant director of operations for Faith Temple Food Giveaway.

The Furniture Mission of South Dakota accepts donations of gently used furniture, beds and household items and in partnership with local ministries and social agencies. The Mission then delivers these items free of charge to those in need in our community. Last year, the Furniture Mission served 4,707 individuals. Currently, the Mission has more than 300 referrals for individuals and families in need of household items.

In response to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, the Furniture Mission has temporarily shifted its model to provide emergency curbside furniture delivery for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, elderly and disabled individuals, those suffering from mental illness, and those who have been impacted by a natural disaster. Because of its new curbside delivery model, all the items the Mission provides to clients must be lightweight and easy for one person to carry into their household. While COVID-19 is active in Sioux Falls, Furniture Mission staff and volunteers will not be allowed to enter the homes of clients.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will help the Mission purchase lightweight air mattresses and folding tables with chairs for clients in need.

Working toward its mission to empower women and families, EmBe strives each day to be a place where women excel, where children and youth thrive, where families succeed and where the community is enriched by its work.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, EmBe has seen a 25 percent increase in inquiries for the availability of School Age Care (care for children grades K-5).

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will help EmBe provide more scholarships for families in need of School Age Care throughout the remainder of 2020. The grant will also help the organization adapt facilities for social distancing recommendations.

“This (grant) means kids will have a safe, enriching environment when school is out. With finances as a barrier, children might otherwise be left to care for themselves or be in other unsafe settings,” EmBe wrote in its grant application.

Parents who rely on EmBe for childcare have praised the nonprofit for its help in recent months.

"In the midst of the pandemic, nothing has been more crucial to our family than safe, reliable childcare,” wrote Benjamin Terpstra. “EmBe has given my wife, Erin, and I the ability to both keep working full time during this time of crisis; her as a physician and myself as a locomotive engineer. Without this care for our children, one of us would have to stop working and stay at home. We cannot thank EmBe enough. Our essential work could not be realized without them."

Shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., South Dakota Voices for Peace led an effort to establish the South Dakota Dream Coalition, a consortium of individuals and immigrant- and refugee-led organizations to advocate for communities of color as well as those who cannot access critical resources.

The South Dakota Dream Coalition established the Emergency Relief Fund to provide short-term financial assistance to immigrant, refugee, and undocumented individuals, families, households and frontline workers directly impacted by COVID-19.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide support for the Emergency Relief Fund, which will provide financial assistance for rent or mortgage payments, utility payments, groceries, childcare, healthcare expenses and more.

Dedicated solely to providing care, support, information and referrals for those impacted by Alzheimer's and all dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association of South Dakota relies heavily on private donations to advance its mission.

Job losses and economic uncertainty due to the pandemic, as well as families’ decisions to postpone funeral and memorial services have significantly impacted the number of charitable gifts to the organization over the last several months. Due to social distancing guidelines, a planned annual fundraiser has also been postponed.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide emergency operating support for the Alzheimer’s Association of South Dakota as it continues to work toward its mission during these challenging times.

Serving adults and children with disabilities and complex medical needs, the mission of LifeScape is to empower people to live their best life.

Shortly after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, LifeScape quickly identified the need for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees as well as the need for a new platform to more effectively communicate with its more than 1,200 staff members.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant helped LifeScape acquire additional PPE for its direct-care programming as well as its two quarantine sites. The grant also helped the nonprofit deploy a new workplace communication platform to effectively and efficiently communicate with staff who do not typically work from a central location or desk.

Working toward its mission to meet the needs of an expanding ethnically and religiously diverse community, the Multi-Cultural Center serves more than 40,000 people each year through 21 programs that provide resources and services to help build self-sufficiency.

The Foundation awarded two COVID-19 Response Grants to the Multi-Cultural Center. The first grant provided funding to help translate essential COVID-19 documents for non-English speakers. The second grant helped to support the Center’s new COVID-19 Response Call Center, a hotline service designed to help non-English speakers who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who have a positive test in their household, find the help they need. The Call Center’s in-house staff and interpreters are helping callers navigate language and cultural barriers to receive the assistance they need.

Dedicated to preventing homelessness in Sioux Falls, The Community Outreach provides financial literacy and mentorship, as well as financial resources to working poor families.

As the Sioux Falls area works to rebuild following the onset of the pandemic, The Community Outreach estimates a 40 percent increase in the demand for its services. The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will support the organization’s Crisis Care Program, an initiative designed to prevent major issues surrounding poverty and homelessness before they overwhelm a specific system or program. This is accomplished through a focus on financial literacy and budgeting skills, identifying the right clients to assist, and working in tandem with other human service organizations.

The Salvation Army of Sioux Falls provides an emergency food pantry, rental/mortgage assistance, utility assistance, emergency disaster relief, senior food box distributions and a weekend feeding program called Sallies Table to those in need throughout Lincoln and Minnehaha counties.

Prior to the pandemic, the Salvation Army typically served around 200 meals in a given weekend through its Sallies Table program. Currently, the organization is seeing requests for more than 300 meals and it anticipates this number to increase.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will support the Sallies Table program, as well as the Salvation Army’s utility assistance initiatives.

Sponsored by the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, Caminando Juntos is an outreach ministry serving the Latino population in the Sioux Falls area, specializing in immigration legal services, community orientation, educational programming and English classes, and basic necessities.

Prior to the pandemic, Caminando Juntos had been tracking an uptick in demand for its services. The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide support to the nonprofit as it responds to a surge in crisis-related phone calls for basic necessities, rental assistance, utility assistance and general resources, as well as requests for immigration-related legal services received since the onset of COVID-19.

The South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault is comprised of caring people dedicated to dealing with the concerns of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The agency works with victims across the state including the Sioux Falls community and surrounding areas and provides emergency funding for more than 70 agencies assisting victims of violence.

Since the start of the pandemic, the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault has seen an increase in the number of domestic violence calls, largely due to the need to quarantine and/or financial hardships related to job losses.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will help the agency provide emergency services for victims, including such things as bus tickets or gas cards necessary to escape an abusive situation and find safety; hotel or motel lodging for victims who do not have a local shelter or are unable to stay in shelter; food and other necessities such as prescriptions; and repairs to their home due to damage sustained during an assault.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. The mission of NAMI South Dakota is to provide education, support and advocacy for individuals and families impacted by mental illness.

NAMI South Dakota estimates COVID-19 will have long-lasting effects on people living with mental illness, as well as those who are now being diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additional research related to the pandemic shows higher incidence rates for alcohol and drug abuse. Research also illuminates socio-economic disparities that exist relative to access to mental health services.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide emergency operating support for NAMI South Dakota as it continues to work toward its mission during these challenging times.

Among the many programs offered by Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of South Dakota is the Center for New Americans, an initiative that serves refugees and immigrants in the Sioux Falls area by providing English language training, pre-employment training, a Community Interpreter Service and immigration legal services, along with additional services available to refugees at various stages of resettlement.

The pandemic has caused an increase in demand for these services, as well as a need for LSS to revise the methods through which it provides services.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will assist LSS in a number of endeavors, including providing food assistance for refugee families impacted by COVID-19, as well as loaning wifi-ready devices to those enrolled in the organization’s English language virtual training sessions as well as English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

Dedicated to moving people from homelessness to hope, the St. Francis House offers a variety of services to help its guests achieve long-term self-sufficiency. The organization offers individuals a warm and safe place to stay, assists guests in locating other community resources to best meet their individual needs, provides comprehensive case management and facilitates referrals to help guests with everything from addiction to healthcare to GED services and more.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the St. Francis House where officials report that a majority of guests have experienced the loss of a job, a reduction in hours or an inability to find work due to hiring freezes. These events have impacted guests’ abilities to pay their restitution and meet their individual needs. In addition, because of these hardships, the St. Francis House opted to waive the nominal housing fee normally charged to guests.

In the interest of safety, the St. Francis House also made the difficult decision pause its volunteer program. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, volunteers spent 750-800 hours each month providing services to guests of the St. Francis House.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will support the St. Francis House as it works through these changing demands for its services. In addition, the grant will support the nonprofit’s increased need for additional cleaning supplies, medication and food.

The Nutrition Program offered by Active Generations provides hot, nutritious meals to people age 60 and over, as well as disabled individuals under the age of 60 who meet certain qualifications.

Due to COVID-19, Active Generations has adjusted its Nutrition Program to provide drive-up meals. Home delivered meals continue with extra clients being added to each route. In accordance with social distancing guidelines, meals are left outside the front door to limit person-to-person contact. Active Generations is also delivering frozen meals to homes throughout Sioux Falls area each week.

Active Generations reports a surge in the number of calls for meal assistance due to lost jobs and/or a reduction in hours. Last month, the nonprofit served 1,000 extra meals per week compared to previous numbers.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide emergency operating support for Active Generation as it continues to work toward its mission during these challenging times.

The mission of the Naomi Project to educate workers, especially immigrant workers, about their rights in the workplace and how to exercise them.

While the Naomi Project's outreach work continues, officials for the nonprofit have reported more acute needs among those it serves, as well as a surge in requests for help due to job losses and/or a reduction in wages. The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will support the Naomi Project as it broadens its scope to aid individuals who need assistance in applying for help with rent and/or food.

The mission of REACH Literacy is to provide individualized reading, writing and life skills tutoring to empower adults in the Sioux Falls area to reach their potential. To achieve its mission, REACH organizes an army of volunteers who serve as tutors, and who operate and staff its used book store. Income from the bookstore is used to help the nonprofit advance its work throughout the community.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on REACH Literacy’s entire operation. In an effort to keep volunteers safe and healthy, the nonprofit’s book store has adjusted its hours of operation and is limiting the number of patrons allowed inside. Tutoring programs which typically take place at local libraries, as well as its Workplace Academy program, which offers tutoring at Avera, Sanford and Grand Prairie Foods, have all been paused.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide emergency operating support for REACH Literacy as it continues to work toward its mission during these challenging times.

Providing supportive services to victims of human trafficking and exploitation, Call to Freedom helps sex and labor trafficking victims in the metro Sioux Falls area navigate a healthy path from victim to survivor.

Due to the coronavirus, Call to Freedom officials report that human trafficking victims can see increased vulnerabilities related to their health concerns, isolation, re-victimization due to economic hardships, challenges related to mental health issues and substance abuse recidivism. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the nonprofit has experienced increasing numbers of referrals, with more than 85 percent of new clients needing emergency shelter. With local shelters already at capacity due to the pandemic, it is increasingly challenging to find safe harbors for clients.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will help Call to Freedom provide housing, transportation and food assistance to those it serves.

The mission of Harmony South Dakota is to empower children and positively transforms their lives through immersive music education and performance.

The pandemic has forced Harmony to shift its musical focus online, providing private instrumental lessons via Zoom. The nonprofit has also created videos that guide students’ practices. While these methods enable most of Harmony’s students to continue playing their instruments, officials note that online lessons are much more challenging and do not offer kids the same experience as playing in community with their friends.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide emergency operating support for Harmony South Dakota as it continues to work toward its mission during these challenging times.

The Helpline Center is dedicated to making lives better by giving support, offering hope and creating connections through its three core service areas: suicide and crisis support, 211 Helpline and volunteer connections.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Helpline Center has seen a surge in calls for food assistance.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant supported the Helpline Center’s proposal to deploy technology as a way to improve safety and add efficiency to the twice-weekly centralized food distributions held at the fairgrounds for individuals and families impacted by the outbreak.

Thanks to an application called Airtable, individuals and families needing food assistance can easily register for a food pick-up. In addition, the technology also allows the Helpline Center to provide real-time data to the nonprofit partners who are supplying food.

“Food distributions are held each Tuesday and Thursday. After each distribution, the data allows our partners to see the overall need. This helps us anticipate needs for next distribution day,” said Janet Kittams, chief executive officer of the Helpline Center.

DakotAbilities serves 135 adults with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 90 who come from 34 counties throughout South Dakota. The nonprofit develops assistive and adaptive devices unique to each person and provides services including residential options, work and Meaningful Day activities, nursing care, dietary and nutrition care, physical and occupational therapy and communication resources. DakotAbilities also provides 24-hour nursing and health care.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant supported a proposal by DakotAbilities to utilize iPads to help its residential clients remain connected with family members, service coordinators, direct support professionals and nurses.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is impacting everyone in our community and the people of DakotAbilities are no exception,” said Nathan Stallinga, director of development for DakotAbilities. “Greater access to the community in any form leads to greater inclusion. Greater inclusion creates a better community.”

Bhutanese Nepalese Youth of Sioux Falls is dedicated to uplifting and caring for the welfare of the Bhutanese community in Sioux Falls.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant provides support for the nonprofit as it seeks to help Bhutanese families who have been impacted by COVID-19, specifically those who have tested positive for the virus and need to quarantine for 14 days.

A feeding ministry in Sioux Falls, the Banquet serves hot, nutritious meals (primarily for breakfast and dinner) to people living in poverty throughout our community. With support from volunteers who cook, serve and cover costs, the Banquet serves between 600-900 meals daily. Its guests are low income families and individuals, senior citizens living on fixed incomes, those with disabilities, those who are homeless, mentally ill people and those who those who struggle with addiction.

The pandemic has impacted multiple areas of the Banquet’s operations. School and business closures have meant an increase in the number of guests, while social distancing guidelines have made it more difficult to recruit volunteers.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant provides support for the Banquet as it works to serve the growing numbers of the hungry in our area. The grant will also support the Banquet’s initiative to offer "to-go" meals for those in need.

A homeless shelter in Sioux Falls, the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House provides temporary emergency shelter for individuals and families in need, as well as day services. Bishop Dudley also serves a daily lunch.

Bishop Dudley has seen a surge in the number of guests since the onset of COVID-19 in our community, an increase prompted primarily by job losses, as well as the temporary closure of libraries and other public-access facilities. As the number of guests increase, so does the need for more food.

Volunteer support was paused at the height of the pandemic, so all meals were prepared and served by Bishop Dudley staff. Staff are also being utilized to execute enhanced cleaning protocols throughout the facility to keep guests safe and healthy.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant provides support for the Bishop Dudley House as it works to serve increasing numbers of those in need.

The Compass Center offers free counseling and advocacy services to those affected by sexual, relational and family trauma.

Compass Center officials note that times of crisis routinely lead to an increased number of cases involving family and relational violence. Such is the case in the Sioux Falls area where the Compass Center has seen increased traffic among its clients, along with new clients reaching out every day.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will assist the Compass Center in deploying the technology, resources and procedures necessary to conduct secure telehealth counseling via videoconference connections.

Dedicated to improving the well-being of mothers, infants and children in Sioux Falls, the Teddy Bear Den has expanded its outreach to vulnerable populations during this time by providing basic essential items for babies (diapers, wipes, bath products and bottles).

The nonprofit reports that, due to the pandemic, growing numbers of local mothers have experienced job loss and/or a loss of hours at work, making it difficult to afford basic essentials for their babies.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will assist the Teddy Bear Den as it provides drive-through necessities for mothers in need, including diapers, wipes, bath products, bottles, etc.

“All our moms need to do is give us a call and we are running items out to their car,” wrote Teddy Bear Den Executive Director Sandy Lown.

The mission of Glory House is to help people claim their lives with Christian compassion, resources and support. Both residential and outpatient clients participate in programs that treat substance abuse and other mental health issues. Clients address irresponsible thinking patterns and develop life skills and positive habits that promote accountability and improve family relationships.

The pandemic has impacted Glory House in multiple ways. Since many of its clients have been laid off from work, they are unable to remit the required percentage of their income to Glory House for their room and board. In addition, a decrease in referrals from the South Dakota Department of Corrections (DOC) has resulted in a lower client census, thus reducing per diem income from the DOC.

At the same time, Glory House has incurred additional expenses for measures taken to protect the health and safety of staff members and guests.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide emergency operating support for Glory House as it continues to work toward its mission during these challenging times.

The mission of Love INC is to provide help for those in need, providing programs such as Friday Backpacks for area students, a food pantry, emergency help for rent and utilities, a personal care pantry, a baby ministry (offering diapers, wipes, etc.), a thrift store, gas vouchers, transportation to medical appointments and more.

Due to the pandemic, the nonprofit’s thrift store has had to temporarily close and a planned fundraiser has been postponed.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will provide emergency operating support for Love INC as it continues to work toward its mission during these challenging times.

As the largest hunger relief organization in the state, Feeding South Dakota works toward its mission to end hunger in South Dakota through five key program areas: food pantries, mobile food pantries, childhood hunger programs, commodity programs, and food banks (distribution centers). In its last fiscal year, Feeding South Dakota distributed more than 15 million pounds of food to 62,000 families, 18,000 seniors and 65,000 children.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant will support Feeding South Dakota’s emergency food boxes, an endeavor developed in the wake of the pandemic designed to address food access while making all efforts to limit to exposure and interaction for recipients, staff and volunteers. Emergency food boxes are available through drive-by and other drop off distributions with agency partners in communities across the state.

In March, the Union Gospel Mission reported serving 200 people daily — an increase of 30 percent from earlier this year. While all guests of the downtown homeless shelter still receive meals, spiritual support and have access to shower facilities, the increase in numbers left many without a bed to sleep in.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant helped the nonprofit purchase more beds for its guests.

"This grant helps the people in our community get off the floor and into a bed during a time like this," said Eric Weber, Union Gospel CEO. "When people don’t have anything and we give them a place to sleep, they at least have something. This grant (is helping) us love out loud in a tangible way to those in need."

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