Every year throughout the holiday season, Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. hosts their charitable program "Downtown Gives". They sell $15 coupon books at 33 downtown retailers, with funds raised going to a worthy non-profit organization in the Sioux Empire. This year's sponsors were Black Hills Federal Credit Union and Minuteman Press.

The beneficiary of this year's fund drive is Friends of the Big Sioux River (FBSR). Their mission is "To protect and restore the Big Sioux River and its watershed, improve the water quality, and educate our community to build a conservation ethic."

The importance of a healthy watershed can't be overstated. It is the land area that drains into streams, lakes, and rivers, and ultimately affects the quality of water in those bodies of water. Clean drinking water and recreational activities like fishing, boating, swimming, and more all contribute to healthy lives, economies, and environments.

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Many of us have observed the nature of the uphill battle this group faces in reaching the goal of a cleaner river. The Big Sioux has landed on several lists of "dirtiest rivers" over the years and unfortunately that has led to some unfortunate nicknames.

This is another reason why the gift of $6,525 from Downtown Gives is so important to the Friends of the Big Sioux's ongoing efforts.

Non-profit groups who would like to be a beneficiary of Downtown Gives will be able to start sending in applications beginning in May. Coupon books will go on sale next fall on Friday, November 5.

For more information on Downtown Gives see Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. or call 605-338-4009. To learn more about the work and goals of Friends of the Big Sioux River see them online.

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