BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Some Hancock County business and community leaders are determined not to let the recent theft of band money keep the Bay High Tiger Marching band from performing at Disney World. They launched a series of community fundraising efforts Sunday.
As WLOX reported last week, the treasurer of the band's booster club was arrested and charged with embezzling $12,000 from the band's bank account. Leaders are now playing "beat the clock" to recoup the money that disappeared.
The Waveland Fire Department along with the Waveland Community Coalition held boot and can shakes Sunday afternoon.
"We appreciate it all Thank you very much," said one of the firefighters.
Most folks who walked up seemed eager to donate to the cause.
"I felt bad for the children. And I think it's terrible that these kids worked so hard and for someone to take the money they've worked so hard for. I think people like us know we need to help," Bay St. Louis resident Nola Kingston said.
"The community has been very supportive out here today. You can kind of since the outrage with a lot of the folks. It's kind of un believable that something like this would happen," organizer and electrical contractor Mike Bell said.
Bell said when he found out about the theft he had to get involved.
"To have someone take it from them; it didn't sit right with me or my wife," Bell said.
Bell said the first thing he did was to call other business owners he knew and asked them to help. He got commitments from six businesses and two little league organizations to donate a thousand dollars each. Then he helped to organize the can shake.
"It's about everybody working together as a group to get this money back for the kids," President Bay-Waveland Youth Football League Mark Kidd said.
Kymberly Strong is a 9th grader at Bay High School. She's also part of the marching bands color guard. She and other band members say they are extremely appreciative for the help.
"These people out here are doing an amazing thing. They don't even have kids in the band and they are out here doing it," Strong said.
"It's good to see people actually care about the band everybody says band is just there for the halftime show. It shows that everybody in the community cares about us," marching band member Joe Hoffman said.
So far fundraising efforts are up to more than $8,000, but Organizers know they still have a long way to go.
"I have a lot of belief in the community to be able to pull this off," Hoffman said.
The Bay St. Louis Fire Department will hold a boot shake at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 90 on Tuesday. Anyone who would like to make a donation to the students cause is asked to contact organizer Mike Bell at 228- 216-6040.