JEFFERSON — It may be a few years off, but Jefferson Middle School students Emily Kerr and Ross Bishoff are really looking forward to high school.
“I can’t wait to be a part of the marching band,” said Emily, a seventh-grade student.
“And getting in all of the (football) games for free,” said Ross, her seventh-grade band mate.
A major part of the marching band experience is the uniforms. With that in mind, Emily’s band booster parents helped organize a unique fundraiser — a raffle for a 2010 Ford Mustang.
“I was (a member of the Parent Teacher Organization) for a number of years and we would really bust our butts to do fundraisers. My husband (Bob Kerr) would always say, ‘Why are you all messing around with the small stuff when you could just have a car raffle and raise a lot of money at once?’” said Cheryl Kerr.
And that is where the idea was born.
With the help of Jefferson Motor Co. General Manager Jimmy Bailey, the Kerrs secured a candy-apple red, two-door Mustang to raffle off, at $50 per ticket or three tickets for $120.
“When I found out that he had a car for us, I said, ‘Oh Jimmy, tell me it’s red,’” said Kerr.
“This is the first year that we’ve done it and I wanted something flashy. It’s a great car and could make a great gift for someone. We tried to keep the ticket prices really reasonable. For most car raffles, the tickets start at $100.”
The goal of the fundraiser is to help purchase new uniforms for the Jefferson High School marching band.
It may seem unusual for middle school parents to raise money for a high school program, but the Jefferson Band Booster program supports the band from grades six through 12.
“It’s all about unity and continuity between (the middle and high schools). One of our goals at the middle school is to make sure that kids continue with band through their high school years,” said Jon Cotton, who is the middle school band director and an assistant high school director.
“We like to do whatever we can to ease the transition between the two programs. And in situations like the fundraiser, the middle school students would actually benefit the most from the new uniforms. The current high school students would be able to use them for a year or two, but the middle school kids would have them for their full four years of high school.”
Schools tend to keep band uniforms for around 10 years, which is understandable when a full set of replacements costs around $30,000 to $40,000, Cotton said.
The band boosters limited the number of tickets for the raffle to 1,000 and so far they say they’ve sold about half of them. The drawing for the convertible won’t take place until all of the tickets have been sold, which the group hopes will happen by the end of January.
The group says they hope to make the raffle an annual event and even expanding the scope of the project.
“The kids enjoy band so much, I’d like for us to be able to set up a scholarship program for the kids whose families can’t afford to rent them an instrument,” said Kerr.
“It can be tough for some families and I’d like for us to be able to help them out. You never know, we could have the next Wynton Marsalis right here and never know it.”