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Lakeland band trip fully funded

After months of collecting money in contributions that usually came a few dollars at a time, the Lakeland High School marching band got a $6,500 promise this week that it will be able to head to Washington in May for a Memorial Day parade.

The Suffolk City Council voted Wednesday to contribute $6,500 to the “Quiet Storm” marching band help pay for a trip to the National Memorial Day Parade on May 31. Lakeland was the only high school in Virginia invited to send a band to perform in the prestigious event.

Since receiving its invitation in the fall, members have raised about $20,000 of the $27,000 needed for the trip. The band had to have the money in hand by April 1 to ensure the trip could happen.

“They have raised 20 [thousand dollars] on their own by doing all sorts of bake sales and car washes and what have you,” Councilman Jeffrey Gardy said Wednesday. “I think sending our Lakeland band to the Memorial Day parade to be the representative of not only Suffolk, but the state of Virginia, would be a worthy cause and may not happen again.”

Council voted to take $6,500 from its contingency fund, which it uses for things Council members expect to be one-time expenses.

Councilman Charles Brown said the band’s fundraising efforts exemplified the spirit of education. When band director Alvin Wilson II initially asked the Council for support in the fall, Council members suggested the students do some fundraising themselves.

“We made a suggestion that education is about looking towards the future and doing some impossible things, and I think they have done that,” Brown said. “This is what makes people great.”

Vice Mayor Curtis Milteer and Councilman Leroy Bennett also chimed in with support for the band. The vote was unanimous.

The amount includes about $377 for each student, chaperone and staff member to cover transportation, lodging, meals and activities, Wilson said in November. He could not be reached for comment Friday.