Raising Money with Music: MIHS Marching Band Supports MIYFS


Hannah Howison

The MIHS Marching Band performs outside QFC to raise money for MIYFS.

Hannah Howison, Features Editor

On Saturday, May 14, the MIHS Band held their annual Food Drive fundraiser to support the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) food pantry.

This fundraiser took place from 12-3 p.m. in front of the Mercer Island QFCs, north end and south end.

In years past, different instrument sections of the band would go door-to-door on Mercer Island and leave flyers. They would return the next day and collect food donations, historically gathering around five to seven tons of food.

However, COVID-19 has skewed the typical execution of the food drive.

“Because of the pandemic, MIYFS isn’t taking actual food donations; they’re taking QFC gift cards and cash donations. So, that’s what we are doing this year,” Band Student Advisory (BSA) member and alto saxophone player Anna Bertlin said.

Band members encouraged people to buy QFC gift cards, but cash was also accepted. Both will be donated directly to Mercer Island families through the MIYFS food bank. 

This event was fully organized and led by BSA members and was headed by Drum Major Jaya Woerner. Along with some other volunteers, the BSA was able to execute this fundraiser for the first time since the 2018-2019 school year.

The band played many recognizable tunes in front of the QFCs, including the MIHS Fight Song and the “Star Wars” theme. 

“Everybody is playing their marching band instruments, we’re playing the songs that people hear at football games. You hear the fight song and everything else,” Bertlin said. 

An additional component of this fundraiser is a competition between the band members themselves, who are all competing to see who can raise the most amount of money per section. Each section had a decorated box, and the section that raised the most money will win the most important thing of all: bragging rights.

“When people donate a QFC gift card they are donating to a specific section, and the section who wins gets a pizza party and infinite bragging rights. It is a status item to win the food drive,” Bertlin said.

The competitiveness between sections helps raise money, as they shout at people to donate to their jar as they walk into the QFC. 

As the band played, they garnered a significant crowd to watch them play. People showed up with their dogs and children, and the percussionists let younger children play with them. 

This annual student-organized and executed fundraiser helps many families on Mercer Island through the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services food pantry. Although COVID-19 altered how the event is typically run, the MIHS Band was still able to give back to the community.