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SIOUX FALLS | South Dakota philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has donated $55 million to Children's Home Society, with the gift aimed at expanding services for victims of domestic violence and supporting the organization's staff.

More than 100 people were on hand Tuesday when Children's Home Society announced the gift, the Argus Leader reported. Sanford's donation is the largest one-time gift received in the Sioux Falls-based nonprofit's 125-year history.

The human services organization also has a facility in Rapid City. A spokeswoman for the organization said the gift will support the organization all across South Dakota.

Sanford said the services provided by Children's Home Society are "invaluable," and that he hopes his gift inspires others to support the organization "as it heads into its next century of service."

"The organization cares for those who require the most care of all — our young people and those who are in serious danger," Sanford said in a statement.

Sanford, a billionaire credit card magnate, has made several donations to Children's Home Society over the last two decades. Sanford pulled his golf cart up to Children's Home executive director Bill Colson in August and asked what his organization's greatest need was. Colson replied that it was supporting staff and expanding services for domestic violence victims.

Part of the gift will help Children's Inn shelter expand its facilities, which will include the T. Denny Sanford Shelter of Hope. The rest will be placed in an endowment to fund long-term improvement of support, compensation and retention of staff.

Children's Inn , a program of Children's Home Society, has outgrown its current facility, the organization said. Children's Inn director Amy Carter said she is not sure yet if the gift will go toward expanding the current facility or building a new one.

"Either way, we know it's needed," Carter said. "The need is there, and our clients deserve it."

The last time Children's Inn expanded was in 2005, when the average daily need was about 28 people, Carter sad. The shelter now serves an average of 40 people a day, with some days doubling capacity.

Sanford, owner of First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard, was not present at the event because he is recovering from hip surgery. But he made a video statement, saying Children's Home Society was one of the "most meaningful" organizations he supports.

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