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Fund-raising continues for Hempfield band

| Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 11:41 p.m.

They can almost smell the roses.

From the moment last November when the Hempfield Area Senior High School marching band accepted an invitation to appear in the 116th Tournament of Roses parade, the organization's sole motivation has been to raise the money to get there.

After nearly a year of sub sales, benefit concerts, local contributions -- even a Tournament of Roses Ball -- there is still work to be done, said Dave Delisi, chairman of the Hempfield Tournament of Roses Committee.

"We're at about $260,000 right now," he said. "And we need $450,000. So we're looking at needing another $190,000."

Some of that money -- from restaurant and supermarket promotions, for instance -- is on the way. And band members are still hustling.

The cost to send one student to Pasadena, Calif., is $1,400. But contributions "somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000," Delisi said, means each band member must come up with a little less.

"The band parents committee anticipates we'll be able to apply about $420 to each student based on fund-raising," he added. "So that means each student will have to raise about $980."

At this point, said Delisi, each band member should have earned at least $580, largely through sub sales.

Still, some are falling behind, said band director Roderick T. Booker.

"I have five or six kids who are having real problems," he said. "They're nowhere near where they should be."

It's not for lack of effort, Booker said.

"In some cases, these kids come from homes where they don't get any support," he said. "One young man is in a situation where there isn't a family car. Every time I see him, he's riding his bike."

Booker said he fears these students won't be able to make the trip.

"I feel so bad about that," he said. "We're still trying. I'm hoping some people step up to the plate to help these kids get there."

To that end, fund-raising efforts continue.

The PovertyNeck Hillbillies, a local country band, are scheduled to return to the high school Nov. 21 for a second benefit concert. Half of the show's gate receipts will go directly to the Tournament of Roses fund, Delisi said.

Additionally, Sony Technology Center-Pittsburgh, located in Hempfield and East Huntingdon townships, has donated a 42-inch Grand Wega television to the committee, the second of two televisions donated this year. Retailing for $2,800, the set will be raffled off Dec. 11 at the final sub sale before the trip. Tickets cost $2 and can be purchased from any band member or parent.

Delisi also stressed that it's not too late to turn in S&H Greenpoints at the Shop 'n Save along Route 136 in Hempfield Township. For every 1,000 points turned in, $1 goes directly to help the band get to California; for every 5,000 points, the band receives $5. The campaign kicked off in April.

"People have been turning their Greenpoints in all summer," he said. "But the construction on (Route) 136 has really slowed things down."

In all, Delisi reported, $24,000 was raised at the April 3 Tournament of Roses ball, $33,000 garnered through a letter-writing campaign to Hempfield Area alumni, and $30,000 was donated by Ricoh, the band's "major sponsor."

And, of course, there were those sub sales. Before a single note is played on Jan. 1, Delisi estimates more than 90,000 sandwiches will have been peddled for the cause.

"Subs are what we do," he said with a laugh. "Subs are our ticket."

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