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Angel Society donates $10,000 to FHS band for new uniforms

The Angel Society of Fallbrook recently made a generous donation of $10,000 to the Fallbrook High School (FHS) band after learning that the Marching Warriors were marching in uniforms that were 20 years old.

“The Angel Society saw the article,” said FHS band booster president Erika Phipps, referring to a story ("New FHS band director seeks help in replacing band’s 20-year-old uniforms”) that ran in the Aug. 17 issue of the Village News.

The article introduced Derek Lee as the new band director at FHS and explained that his first goal was to raise money to replace 20-year-old uniforms that he said “had a pretty strong, wretched smell to them, like 20 years of sweat and blood and tears that went into them.”

“They (the Angel Society) had several people that had been in band so they really had some heartstrings pulled when they saw the article and found out our uniforms were so old,” said Phipps. “So they voted on it. We didn’t even have to contact them and they gave us that huge donation.”

Joyce Wood, second vice president/philanthropy for the Angel Society, contacted Phipps about making a donation and the two set up a time when Wood could stop by band practice and present a check.

“She (Wood) wanted to keep it a secret and surprise the band kids and Mr. Lee,” said Phipps. “We got all the kids together and she presented them with a check. There were tears and it was so great. She didn’t tell me how much it was – she just said a donation – so when she pulled out a $10,000 check I started crying. I was so happy.”

Phipps admitted she had no idea how old the uniforms were.

“This is my first year as a band booster and when I found out they were 20 years old my mouth just dropped because I graduated in 1998 and these uniforms are from 1997,” said Phipps.

The band wanted to publicly thank and recognize the Angel Society for its donation and it did just that at Fallbrook High’s first home football game Sept. 8. Wood and Nancy Knox of the Angel Society were saluted by the band, band boosters, Lee, and FHS principal Larry Boone.

Band uniforms cost $300 to $400 each and Phipps said the goal is to buy 80 uniforms. Phipps said the Angel Society’s donation would cover 25 to 30 uniforms.

Phipps said parents of a sophomore band member recently stepped forward with a $1,500 donation, and that the band is currently conducting an on-line fundraising campaign through the donation site Snap Raise!

"It's going awesome," said Lee of the fundraising efforts, noting that the Snap Raise! campaign had raised about $4,500 through Sept. 15. Lee said he hoped it would raise another $6,000 before it ends at the end of the month.

Phipps said fundraising for the band is a year-round activity as money is needed for everything from equipment, drill sheets, music, entries for competitions, and travel to competitions.

Band boosters often team up with local restaurants on fundraisers and one such event is coming up Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the Chipotle Mexican Grill located at 1117 S. Mission Road.

"On Sept. 26 from 4 to 8 p.m., when anybody goes to Chipotle and mentions the Fallbrook High band, Chipotle will give 50 percent of the profits from that transaction to the band," said Phipps. "All you have to do is mention the band, so if we can get a lot of people in there and have them mention the band, it could be a $500 to $1,000 night for us."

Phipps encourages anyone who would like to support the band to visit the donation link available on the Fallbrook Band Boosters website. The link,, takes people directly to the band’s donation page where they can donate via Paypal.

People can also make a tax deductible donation by writing a check and sending it to: Fallbrook Band Boosters Inc., PO Box 1604, Fallbrook, CA 92088, Non Profit: (501(c)3 710918424).

Lee, who had only 17 students show up for the first day of band camp, said the band roster now has 51 students.

"We're hoping that it grows over the next year, after people start seeing the band out there doing their thing," said Lee.

Band competition season is approaching and Lee said he and the band members are looking forward to it.

"The kids are excited and I'm super excited to present what they can do to everybody else," said Lee. "They're awesome kids and they can play well. I think we're going to have a really good season this year."

Phipps said band members like what they've seen from the 28-year-old Lee.

"All the feedback I get from the kids is really, really positive," said Phipps. "He's young enough that he brings really fresh ideas and he's teaching them a lot of new things, including technique. Every teacher teaches differently and they really like his teaching style."

So while the FHS Marching Warriors continue to entertain at home football games and prepare for competition, their march for new uniforms also continues.

"We're hoping we can keep the fundraising momentum going so that it can happen sooner than two to three years," said Phipps.


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