For her first two years at Spectrum Community School, Katelyn Smith showed up every month for the band’s bottle drives.
Now in Grade 11, Smith still shows up when she can.
“It’s fun, we split into sorters and collectors for the first few hours then we all sort from 11:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m., and make a big lunch,” she said.
On Saturday, Smith and her bandmates will receive a $3,700 cheque from The Bottle Depot, as Spectrum returned the most containers in The Bottle Depot’s year-long contest that ended in Feburary.
Spectrum band’s monthly bottle drives collected and returned 141,661 items, the most of the 50 or so organizations that competed in the The Bottle Depot contest at the vendor’s three locations: 3961 Quadra St., 655 Queens Ave. and 4261 Glanford Ave.
“Spectrum returned about 20,000 units above everyone else, we’re thrilled to give them the cheque for it,” said operations manager Kelly Gorman of the The Bottle Depot.
Spectrum won $1,500 cash for the contest and earned another $2,200 in one month from the proceeds of The Bottle Depot’s charity bins.
There is a method to Spectrum’s success, Gorman said.
For one, the band runs bottle drivers regularly. They also hold the drives following long weekends, which has proven fruitful.
“They follow the trends of when people consume more, and it has paid off,” Gorman said.
Of course, bottle collections have their drawbacks.
“It’s the stickiness, or when your gloves break, that’s the worst,” said band member Trent Walker, who’s enjoyed the best and the worst of bottle collecting.
“People also leave their bags of empties in the driveway for months, that can be really gross especially if it spills out everywhere,” Smith added.
“The kids work hard, they’re very dedicated to the band,” said band leader Jamie Davis, who added the money will be used to purchase a new baritone saxophone for the band, and any leftover amount will go towards sheet music.
“We have a couple of baritone saxophones, but we’re in need of a new one. It’s common for the bigger school bands to provide some of the larger, more unique instruments such as the baritone sax, which isn’t necessarily as affordable for students as some of the instruments.”
Fundraisers are part and parcel for Spectrum band members, who sell homemade apple pies in the fall, poinsettias at Christmas and Mothers’ Day flower baskets.
But the biggest money comes from the bottle returns.
“We are indebted to the community,” Davis said. “We have people who phone us to ask when our next bottle drive is .And anyone can donate them to The Bottle Depot, you just have to say it’s for the Spectrum band when you donate.”
Spectrum is hosting an upcoming New Orleans Jazz Night with the school’s junior and senior jazz bands and jazz combos, 7 p.m. Friday, April 24 in the Spectrum gymnasium. Tickets are $10 at the door. Desserts will be available from the school’s culinary program.