Hope College students are putting in a marathon effort to help kids in need.

The student-organized Dance Marathon is a 24-hour charitable drive for children. The funds raised are donated directly to DeVos Children's Hospital of Grand Rapids.

Dance Marathon will begin on Friday, March 7, at 7 p.m. and will run until Saturday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in the college's Dow Center. During the event, dancers are required to stay on their feet for the duration.

More than 180 dancers, including students as well as members of the college's faculty and staff, are registered. Including the planning committee and the hundreds who will serve 12-hour shifts as morale supporters or in other behind-the-scenes roles, more than 600 participants are anticipated.

Each dancer must raise at least $275 to participate. Fund-raising efforts during the months preceding the marathon itself have included collecting change outside of area businesses, a "Giving Hope to Kids Auction" on campus, student meal ticket donations, and donation of a portion of Tuesday proceeds by Papa John's Pizza. Student organizations such as the college's fraternities and sororities have been holding additional fund-raisers of their own.

Dance Marathon is in its fourth year at the college. In its first three years, 2000 through 2002, the drive raised a total of more than $110,000, including $50,425.87 last year.

The amount raised this year will be announced during a celebration scheduled to begin on Saturday, March 8, at 6 p.m., an hour before the conclusion of the marathon.