The Edmond Sun

August 31, 2012

Mannford, Jenks boosters band together to help musicians victimized by widlfires

Sara Plummer

MANNFORD — The Mannford Band of Pirates was in the middle of camp in early August learning the fall show when tragedy struck.

Wildfires devastated the area.

Six members of the Mannford High School band and their families were left without homes, and some lost their instruments.

Band director Keith Hix knew that many students in Mannford schools lost everything, including some in his band program. Two high school students lost their instruments, including a drum kit and a clarinet, and one of the middle school students also lost a drum kit.

So he went to the school’s band booster club and told them, “I would like to do something above and beyond for the band kids.”

At that same time, officers for the Jenks High School band booster club were reaching out to the Mannford band to help.

“Obviously we were aware of the need,” said Ray Tuttle, president of the Jenks booster group. “Everyone is taking care of all this other stuff. What about the band?

“We understood, and we wanted to help. We wanted to help their band.”

The Jenks club raised $300, the Mannford club raised $250 more, and a private donor from Jenks gave $500 toward purchasing new instruments for the students who lost theirs.

Thanks to discounts offered by The Music Store, the donations covered the cost of the new instruments.

“We were able to totally replace everything,” Hix said. “The outpouring was amazing.”

Drum captain Caleb Reed lost his drum kit along with his music and recording equipment when the outbuilding he stored it in was destroyed by the wildfires.

Not only was Reed, a junior, able to get a new drum kit through the donations, but his drum instructor also got him a replacement kit.

Reed said he was happy and surprised by the community’s generosity.

“I’ve never seen this side of it before,” he said. “Music is a universal language. If someone lost their ability to make music, others can feel their pain.”

Being able to replace the lost instruments means the students can get back to focusing on the music and their show and maybe returning to some kind of normal soon.

“It’s been crazy,” Hix said. “Some of the (students) are living with friends. There’s a lot of people living in RVs.”

Kendall Bock, a freshman who plays the flute, lost her home when the fires came, but she was out of town and had clothes and her flute with her.

Now she and her father are staying with friends as they wait to start to rebuilding their home.

Being able to go to school and be around her friends in band has helped.

“For what happened, it’s pretty normal,” she said. “It wasn’t for a couple days.”

Bock has even been able to avoid some of the traditional freshman ribbing from older band members.

“I think they’re less annoyed with me than they normally would be,” she said.

Sara Plummer 918-581-8465