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The Cleveland High music program finds fundraising concerts work best with few in the audience!

DAVID F. ASHTON - During this years Cleveland High October Play-a-thon, the Cleveland High Jazz Ensemble entertained, while the screen above them shows the progress of their fundraiser. Starting late Friday afternoon, October 4, Cleveland High School (CHS) bands again this year went all-out to raise money to support their programs with an eight-hour "Play-a-thon" in the school's auditorium.

While there weren't many people in the audience, watching and listening in person, hundreds of folks "tuned in" throughout the evening, as it was streamed live on the Internet.

"Yes, it is a fun extended concert, but this is necessary – because the CHS music program is not funded by Portland Public School District – and there are so many costs and fees associated with the band program," explained the event's coordinator, and mother of a CHS senior trumpet player, Ms. Tammy Lewis.

"Instead of charging each parent for their student's participation in the music program, we want to make it equitable – so that any student can participate in band programs, regardless of the financial ability of their parents," Lewis remarked to THE BEE, as one band ended their set, and a combo set up to play.

"We have about a hundred parent volunteers helping out this evening, in one way or another, because we all believe that music in our school is so important," Lewis continued. "'Band' is a community of students who are working together as a team!"

Between performances, CHS Band Director Gary Riler was all smiles about the fundraiser's progress. "It's amazing to me that so many great parents are involved! – Not just taking the big responsibility of feeding our kids this evening – they are so supportive of everything we do here."

He looked up at the "Tote Board" and pointed out that the Play-A-Thon had already logged $20,000 in donations, with about four hours remaining in that evening. "Without this fundraiser, we wouldn't have an 'annual budget' to pay the expenses of the 179 kids in our band program – including buying sheet music, and competition registration fees. We spend $8,000 just for transportation alone!"

By the time the long concert ended at 11:15 p.m. that evening, they'd raised their GoFundMe goal of $32,000. And, donations kept coming in until the campaign closed – with the grand total raised being $34,655 from 425 donors.

It's still not too late to contribute, though, organizers say. You can donate online, through Friends of Cleveland Bands –

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