Mt. Whitney Band Boosters volunteers raise funds by wrapping Christmas gifts at the Visalia Mall
By Nancy Vigran, Reporter for the Sun-Gazette
VISALIA – For the past five years, the MWBB has helped put a wrap on Christmas. Through a location near the food court inside the Visalia Mall provided by the mall to them, gratis, boosters, students, and families have kept their fingers nimble by wrapping presents large and small. The presents need not be purchased from within the mall, but can be brought in from outside as well.
They’ll be there starting Friday, Dec. 7, said Anna Bernardo, president, and will remain open regular mall hours through Christmas eve. Volunteers who man the booth are asked to spend about three to four hours at any given time. They work as many days as they are available. And, it pays off!
“It takes about $60,000 – $80,000 per year to run the band program,” Bernardo said.
This includes providing uniforms, competition entries, and travel for the band and Color Guard, as well. The band program includes the marching band, jazz band, wind ensemble, and the percussion line. The students are responsible for their own instruments. Winter percussion has started, however, the bulk of the concert season is in spring.
Last year the MWBB made about $9,000 wrapping presents, Bernardo said.
“And I can’t begin to tell you how many presents we wrapped,” she added. “It gets pretty hectic and it’s hard to keep track of how many we wrapped.”
The smallest presents are generally jewelry, she said. The largest they wrapped was a vanity. A lot of Mt. Whitney alumni take advantage of the opportunity to have their gifts wrapped, while supporting the MWBB. And, every year, they have a lot of return customers.
Wrapping starts around $2, and has gone as high as $25. It depends on the amount of paper and ribbon used, and how much time it takes. However, a lot of paper is also generously donated, Bernardo said. Customers choose from what’s available be it the fancier foils, or children’s paper.
The wrappers are practiced, many of whom have participated before, and the students can be quite creative, Bernardo said. Her son, Tony, is one of those. Now a junior, he started wrapping last year.
“He actually enjoyed it, and once he got the hang of it, he became quite the wrapper,” she said.
“I love my band family,” Tony said. “Our boosters work hard, so helping with the gift wrapping is a way to give back to them, and our community.”
Tony plays in the low brass section of the band. He has played the trombone since fifth grade. He also plays keyboard and is learning the euphonium, a large baritone-voiced brass instrument.
The MWBB other main fundraiser each year comes in February, when they man a food booth along with the school’s Sports Boosters at the World Ag Expo.