West Hall High School band students have worn the same uniforms for 13 years. So this year, Band Director Katy Wilson and the Band Boosters are hosting the Spartan Uniform Project, a shoe drive to raise funds for 120 new uniforms.
The community can donate their gently worn, used and new shoes to the band room at West Hall High School, 5500 McEver Road in Oakwood, until Dec. 13. The band will earn funds based on the total weight of the pairs of shoes collected through Funds2Orgs, which will issue a check for the collected shoes.
“We are trying to collect 100 bags with 25 pairs each, then the organization sends us $1,000. Each class is competing to collect the most shoes,” Wilson said. “The band is growing so it is a desperate need. We want to buy 120 uniforms, which is $60,000.”
Wilson said the band has raised about $10,000 as of Nov. 1.
“To have them next year, we would need the funds by February, but if we can have it by the end of this year, we can start planning for the 2019-2020 school year,” Wilson said.
New uniforms consist of bibbers, shoes, a marching band jacket, shako hat, plume, as well as gauntlet cuffs, gloves and a uniform carrying bag. One uniform, not including shoes, costs about $424, according to Wilson.
“There is an element of pride that comes in putting on the uniform. When they put the uniform on, they are all the same, equal and a team. I think the uniform speaks so much as to what the organization is and who we are,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that although the band’s uniforms still look good from a distance, they “don’t quite fit, are too long or torn.”
“Students know when they put on something that is crisp, clean and looks sharp, they perform better,” Wilson said. “As we grow, we marched 67 last year and 90 this year, so we are maxing out every uniform that we have. Next year, when the band grows even more, we are not going to have uniforms for everybody.”
In her second year, Wilson succeeds founding director Ernie Phillips. Wilson said since the school opened in 1988, the band program has only had two sets of uniforms.
“Their age and condition have become a distraction and a limitation for the students and the band program,” said Stephanie Wetzel, president of the West Hall Band Boosters. “They deserve uniforms that reflect their pride and commitment to excellence.”
All donated shoes will be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network of small business partners. Funds2Orgs helps create, maintain and grow small businesses in developing countries where economic opportunity and jobs are limited. They are able to use proceeds from shoe sales collected in fundraisers to feed, clothe and house families.
“We are excited about our shoe drive,” Wilson said. “We know that most people have extra shoes in their closets that they would be able to donate. By doing so, they will raise money for high school music education in our community, and also help families in developing nations who need economic opportunities. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
The West Hall Band Program consists of the Band of Silver Marching Band, the Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band and several smaller ensembles and section choirs.
“We are moving in the right direction, but there is urgency in this. There is a significant need here for us to have things for our students to have a quality band program,” Wilson said.
Donated shoes can be any size and all donations are tax deductible. For more information visit WestHallBand.org.