CRANBERRY — Bingo beginners sat shoulder to shoulder with seasoned professionals in the packed cafeteria of the Historic Cranberry High School during the Avery County Band Booster Club’s fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the historic Cranberry High School.
Seated at fold out tables lining the historic cafeteria overshadowed by the large bingo board on the far wall, one sibling of a band member said she even saw a few serious competitors bring their own bingo card stampers. Although their bingo skills ranged, all competitors were supporting the middle school band by buying into the bingo game and vying for the $500 cash prize as well as for three full-day, four-person group passes donated by Grandfather Mountain.
The Cranberry bingo games have been bringing in cash for years. While the Cranberrian Corporation has used the fundraiser to raise money for the maintenance and preservation of the high school, they partnered to share the night with the band booster club which has not been able to hold a fundraiser since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
According to the band booster club president Andrea Turbyfill, the band have been financially running on fumes. Money is needed for students to attend two band competitions in which they perform during the year, instruments and instrument repairs, as well as for well-needed new uniforms, Turbyfill said. Since the beginning of COVID-19, the band has not been able to fundraise and has been using the funds saved up from 2019 and early 2020. Moreover, Turbyfill said they have not been able to host its annual band competition at the high school since the high school renovation began.
This fall, Turbyfill said the band is bringing back its fruit fundraiser. With a new provider, the band will be selling oranges, mandarins, tangerines and other fruits later in the fall to help fundraise for the band.
Beyond funds, Turbyfill said the band is also still in need of an additional band instructor. Kathryn Ezzelle is currently the only band teacher covering Avery Middle School and Cranberry Middle School, as well as Avery High School’s marching band and concert band. Turbyfill said that Cranberry Middle School currently doesn’t have a band class. Students are taking their own time out of classes to seek out an instructor to maintain their skills until band classes can be restarted.
Turbyfill said that the booster club is grateful for the Cranberrian Corporation’s partnership and for providing the space, caller, bingo supplies and more for the fundraiser. She said that band is an important creative outlet for the students, and that bingo was just the beginning of their efforts to support the band this year.
Marisa Mecke is a Report for America corps member for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program which places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.