As the low melody filled the room, members of the lunchtime crowd looked up from their plates and stifled their voices to listen to the tune.
Gradually, the song sped up as the singers swayed and snapped their fingers along with the beat.
To make Valentine’s Day a little more special for those dining at Dubuque Rescue Mission, the Collective Sound Barbershop Quartet gave a short performance Friday.
But the four singers had a second mission to complete — delivering a $1,000 check to support the organization and the people it helps.
The members of the quartet are also part of the Dubuque Music Men Barbershop Chorus. For the past five years, they have used their melodic gifts to raise money.
“We go to Galena (Ill.) for about two weeks during Christmastime, and we just sing along the streets, and it’s for donations for the Rescue Mission,” said chorus member Jim Moris.
Jim McAuliffe, the chorus’ president, said that when people in Galena hear what the group is raising money for, it makes donating to the cause easy.
“It’s kind of selfish on our part, but we go around to the different businesses over there, and we have a few baskets out,” he said. “It’s great to see the generosity when they know what it’s going towards.”
In 2018, the chorus raised about $700 for the mission. During the most-recent Christmas season, the group garnered $1,000.
The donation will go toward the mission’s meal ministry, said Executive Director Rick Mihm.
“We feed like 220 folks a day — women, men, children. Some of them are on a fixed income,” he said.
Mihm said the organization provides breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Such financial donations help make that possible.
“It’s organizations like the barbershop quartet and other small organizations and nonprofits that make this mission run,” he said. “It’s merely all faith-based, meaning that nearly all the churches in Dubuque support the mission.”
Mihm said supporting low-income people in the area has been the organization’s mission for many years.
“The mission has been here for over 80 years,” Mihm said. “People know it. We just have always been there for the poor. That’s what we do is house and feed the poor.
“Many of the singers I know personally. I just think it’s marvelous. It’s just a way to give back.”
McAuliffe said the community support the quartet received, in terms of donations in Galena, was uplifting. He hoped the singers were able to deliver the same kind of feeling on Valentine’s Day.
“It’s all about sharing our love, and that’s what (Mihm’s) doing every day of his life,” he said. “It’s important to say we love you, and we are here to support those guys.”