Banding Together for the Cause

Generosity after disaster


With winds that spanned 1,100 miles, Hurricane Sandy is now the largest Atlantic hurricane on record.

On Monday night, October 29, Sandy tore through and devastated much of the Northeast, just five days before the much anticipated weekend of USBands State Championships.

The next day, New Jersey States was cancelled, and plans quickly formed to reschedule the Jersey Championship into a series of three competitions the following weekend, amidst A and Open Nationals.

As it became clear how much devastation was wrought by the storm, the USBands team decided to connect with the Salvation Army. Over the two-day States and Nationals weekend, the Salvation Army planned to set up donation locations at several of the USBands shows.

“As soon as I heard that there would be a drop-off point, I talked to our band booster president and we decided that we wanted to do something,” said Mike Harrison, director of bands at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, MD. The two decided to go big or go home.

“We certainly were affected a bit by the storm here, but not nearly as bad as New Jersey was,” Mr. Harrison said. “We had a couple kids who were flooded into their homes, but we certainly recognized that band programs and families at other schools were going through a lot, and we were lucky not to get hit so badly.”

So the band rallied and spread the word to their community, and donations started filling the band room almost immediately.

“We have a great communication system here, and in just three days we came up with 50 bags of clothing and blankets,” Mr. Harrison said. “I was blown away by the generosity.”

On Thursday before Nationals, a local ski resort arrived to unload all of their used ski jackets, pants and boots.

By Friday, Urbana’s band trucks and trailers were reaching capacity, and Mr. Harrison began to worry about transporting everything to MetLife Stadium the next day. He called up some neighboring band directors who were more than willing to lend some extra space in their vehicles.

“A lot of it was brand new,” Mr. Harrison marveled. “People showed up that I had never met. Even a couple teachers at the school showed up with brand new jackets and things from Burlington Coat Factory, and there was lots of lightly-worn stuff as well.”

The Urbana community also donated 50 cases of water to the cause.

“It was an awesome event at MetLife, and it was so cool to see peoples’ modesty as they came in,"  said Judith, the Volunteer Resources Manager for the Salvation Army. "There were people who brought mini vans full of stuff and just unloaded it into our trucks. Someone even donated a generator, and many people brought monetary donations as well.”

Over the weekend, the Salvation Army received three truckloads of clothing, and food donations filled up eight mini vans. And afterwards, 10 more bags of clothes piled up in Urbana’s band room that were subsequently taken to a local Salvation Army site.

“It really was so inspiring to me,” Mr. Harrison said. “I’m new to this area. I just moved here for this job, and it was amazing to see how the community stepped up so generously in just three days.”

“I’m just so glad this was organized," Judith said. "All the donations have been awesome to help us in the hurricane relief efforts."


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