Pride of Durant kicks off fundraising for new school year

Natalia Bravo (L) and Lauren Cathey stock shelves, working for Fireworks World in the Pride of Durant fundraiser. Staff photo.

CALERA – It’s almost time again to watch fireworks and to shoot them off individually as well, as the Fourth of July is about a week away.

And with many places locally to purchase your own fireworks, one of the largest setups has also become home for one of the largest organizations in the county, a group that uses these sales as a fundraising opportunity.

Once again this year, the Pride of Durant is working at Fireworks World with the sales of the product to help raise money for itself as well.

Durant band director Chris Gregg talked about the fundraiser that gets the year going.

“The students and the parents in the Booster Club help with the selling and stocking and actually the checking out and purchasing of fireworks with people who solicit there,” Gregg said. “And we get a percentage of the total proceeds at the end of the event as a fundraiser to help us out.

“It kickstarts our year. With budget shortfalls in the state by the state and local funding and such, I think every organization in the school needs help. And this is a big one and really it’s become our biggest fundraiser of the year.”

Gregg, who is the lead instructor of instrumental music at Durant ISD, said they like to consider the whole band program, all of the students from beginners up.

“We actually call our younger kids ‘The Future Pride,'” Gregg said.

But in this case, the Pride of Durant is actually referring to the high school band. And that is its official title. The high schoolers are the ones working to sell the fireworks.

This has become the biggest fundraiser for the organization, but it’s not the only one.

“Well, our second biggest one, which used to be the biggest one, is our band card,” Gregg said. “And they start selling late October/early November for the following year. We’ll start selling this October our 2018 band card. And we get a lot of good response from our local businesses, offering rebates or good deals on meals and things of that sort.”

And Gregg said the money raised goes for so many things.

“One of the main things, with the shortfall in funding that the state has gone through in the last several years, is to help the band boosters feed the kids on trip. And they’ve also started to help us purchase an instrument or some music and with our marching competition in the fall.

“The money is getting tighter and where it used to be for extra things, now it is becoming more for just what is necessary, just to keep our head above water. And I can probably speak for every organization.”

Gregg estimates 47-50 incoming freshmen to participate in the 2017-2018 version of The Pride. This puts the number at approximately 175-180 marching on the field in the fall, plus the color guard, as well.

From sixth grade through seniors, the Durant band staff teaches about 400 students each day.

“I go home pretty wore out every day,” Gregg said. “But it’s a good wore out. They’re good kids and we enjoy it.”

And he said he wanted to express his appreciation to the community.

“Just a simple thank you to all who have given. And to the folks, particularly, who have participated in our patron’s program. And there are those who do not want to be mentioned by name and I understand that, but I want them to know particularly that we do thank them and appreciate them very much.

“Durant is a great place and it’s been a great place to raise my family and I can’t thank God enough for the folks in this community.”

Fireworks World will be open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. through the rest of June, and 9 a.m. until midnight July 1-4.

Staff photo.

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