band donation

Brunswick High School band director John Birge accepts a check from Friendly Express executive assistant Casey Hall to help fund a band trip to Philadelphia to march in the Thanksgiving Parade this year. Friendly Express is challenging other businesses to step up and match the donation.

The president of Family Express Inc. was browsing through the local news recently when he came across an article about some students with a hefty goal.

The marching band at Brunswick High School had put out a call for help as they begin fundraising for a trip to Philadelphia in November. The band announced at the end of last year that they’d earned a spot to march in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country.

They earned that spot based on their impressive performance throughout their most recent fall season.

Danny Smith, the CEO of Family Express, Inc., based out of Waycross, read through an article about the marching band’s goal in The News, which he receives daily via email, according to Casey Hall, the company’s executive assistant.

“He said, ‘Hey, let’s see what we can do,’” Hall said.

That request brought Hall to the courtyard at Brunswick High on Thursday. She brought with her a ceremonial large check marked for $2,000.

The donation came with an additional gift. Friendly Express, Inc., is now challenging other businesses in the community to offer support to the marching band as they work to raise money for their trip.

“We want to challenge local businesses to match,” Hall said.

John Birge, the band director at Brunswick High, hopes to bring every member of the band to Philly this fall. That will require a great deal of fundraising.

“This trip is quite expensive,” Birge said.

The students were excited to learn that a local business has already pledged support, Birge said. But like all undertakings of the band, he intends to make sure the students work to earn it.

“Part of our thing is we want them to work for it,” he said. “We’re going to do fundraisers with them.”

Plans are in the works now to host fundraising events in the spring semester, including a golf tournament later this year.

“We’d like to get ahead of the game as much as possible,” Birge said.

Those wishing to donate can contact Birge at

“We think it is great to do things for the youth,” Hall said. “… The kids are the future, so we want to invest in them.”

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