By Joel Hall
According to Lovejoy High School officials, the school needs at least $50,000 to purchase uniforms for the 100 members of the Lovejoy High School Wildcats Marching Band. The City of Lovejoy has decided to help raise the funds by raffling off a brand new, Polaris Ranger 800 CREW all-terrain vehicle.
Starting Dec. 7, Lovejoy City Hall, the Lovejoy Community Center, and Lovejoy High School's Band Parent Booster Club will begin selling raffle tickets for a chance to win the Ranger, as well as a towing trailer to transport it from place to place. The retail value of the Ranger and the trailer is $12,500, according to city officials.
According to Post 2 City Councilwoman Marci Fluellyn, tickets for the raffle will sell for $20 each. Fluellyn said the city decided to help the school after she noticed members of the marching band performing in warm-up suits.
"I saw that they were marching in wind breakers," Fluellyn said. "I found out from the [band] director that the band's uniforms were more than four years old and some of them were dry rotted."
According to city officials, Lovejoy recently purchased three Polaris Rangers for $29,562, and two towing trailers for $2,084. According to Fluellyn, the city outfitted two of the vehicles for use by the Lovejoy Police Department and decided to raffle off the third vehicle to raise funds for the marching band.
"They need at least $50,000 to order the band uniforms for the kids they have in the band [and] they want to use [an] additional $10,000 to purchase instruments," Fluellyn said. "When you are trying to raise $60,000, doughnuts just don't cut it. With it being a large-ticket item, we could set the raffle tickets to $20 apiece and reach our goal much quicker.
"It's [the Ranger] very popular with those who hunt and those who do off-roading," she added. "It's an all-terrain vehicle. It has the comfort of a golf cart and the mobility of a four wheeler. It seats up to five people. It also has a place where you put things in the back, so you can take it hunting, camping or on a family trip."
Fluellyn said the money raised would reimburse the city for the cost of the vehicle and that the remaining proceeds will benefit the marching band.
Lovejoy High School Principal Keith Colbert said he was "excited" when the city first approached him with the idea for the raffle.
"I thought it was a wonderful idea," said Colbert. "I haven't heard [of] too many cities and schools collaborating the way Lovejoy has to help the band. Budgets are tightening up everywhere. The normal money we get from the Fine Arts department with the [school] district, we didn't get it, so the initiative with Lovejoy is very timely and very needed."
Michele Al-Amin, fund-raising chairperson for the Lovejoy High School band department, said she has been working for two years to find a way to raise the money the school marching band needs for its uniforms. She said the school is the only high school in the county without band uniforms, and that she hopes the county will support the fund-raiser.
"We've worked so hard in the last two years to raise this money and we finally have a fund-raiser that will," Al-Amin said. "I'm really excited because the kids deserve it. We all hope that the community sees the needs of the children. We can't do it by ourselves, so we are looking for everybody to come and support these children."
Fluellyn said she believes the fund-raiser is "another opportunity" to reach out and help the citizens of Lovejoy.
"Their [the marching band] showmanship, their skill, and their ability to entertain is one of the best I have seen from a high school," she said. "I do know that they have participated in the Battle of the Bands in Atlanta. I know that they have placed in those competitions. Our kids are in Lovejoy High School ... that's why we should be doing whatever we can."
The drawing for the Ranger will take place in March, according to city officials. For more information about the raffle, call (770) 471-2304.