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Thief adds sour note to Oak Harbor Middle School band fundraiser

A man dealt a setback to a middle school band’s fundraising effort when he stole the money students collected outside an Oak Harbor business.

Musicians in the Oak Harbor Middle School band are trying to raise $52,000 to pay their way to a national band competition taking place next spring in Southern California. To help cover the costs, three band members grabbed their instruments and, on Oct. 21, they went to the entrance of Walmart to sell candy bars.

Evidently a man approached and asked the students to start playing. With the students concentrating on the music, he made his move.

“He thought it would be a great opportunity to take their money,” said Patrick Manuel, band teacher at Oak Harbor Middle School. The man stole between $40 and $45, which represents a lot of $1 candy bars the students were selling. Manuel said he didn’t learn about the incident until the next day when one of the parents told him. The students involved were too embarrassed even to tell him of the theft, he said.

Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace said the department is investigating the theft. Unfortunately, officers don’t yet have much of a description of the man only that he is white and older than 40.

The band program is trying to raise money to send 60 student musicians to the Heritage Music Festival, which is a national student band competition that takes place April 14 through 17 in Anaheim, Calif.

The band members did have a successful fundraiser Wednesday night when they held their “Night of the Arts” event at Oak Harbor High School. The evening featured a dinner and a performance by the Oak Harbor Middle School Symphonic Band.

The night, which also included a silent auction, raised approximately $9,000.

“It was great having all of that support,” said Brian Jones, who is helping coordinate the fundraising effort. He said $36,000 has been raised to date. For information about making a donation, call Jones at 360-969-4664. or drop one off at Jones Accounting, 1199 SE Dock St.. Make checks payable to the Oak Harbor Education Foundation and note the it’s intended for the band trip.

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