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Ricardo Tan

Can you imagine a world without music? Well, first imagine a world where your children don’t have the opportunity to learn how to play music. Now, fast-forward several decades and imagine the resulting world where there’s no music anymore because nobody has learned how to play or read music. This is happening in schools all across California since state funding is abysmal, but my school and my hometown managed to avoid this fate through a raffle!

Every year my high school’s music program puts on a show we called Coconut Grove, featuring all of the town’s jazz groups playing while attendees enjoyed a sit-down dinner, a silent auction, and most importantly, a raffle. Attendees received two raffle tickets alongside their meal upon entering the event, but they could and often did buy more from the various members of the school bands who were volunteering to help run the event. Every year we sold hundreds of addition tickets, some benefactors buying several dozen. I and other members of the band would run the booth selling the tickets as well as weaving through the tables, offering the tickets to the attendees as they enjoyed the music. The prizes ranged from donations from local businesses to band groups playing at your birthday party to lamps made from instruments. Attendees would excitedly read their numbers between bites as the emcee listed them off. The raffle call would take place between ensembles, making for a continuously exciting night. The event brought together people from all across the community in support of our program.

The event also featured a silent auction for people to walk around in, but the main event (other than the music, of course) was unequivocally the raffle. Attendees would always compliment the quality of the prizes and the fun they had vying for them. The friendly yet competitive atmosphere of the raffle gave way to increasingly large donations as the night went on and the prizes and ticket pool got bigger and bigger. The raffle comprised a large portion of the total donations from the night.

Coconut Grove funded most of the program until the next year came around, but what was really important about it was that it brought the community together and it gave members of the community who normally don’t get to hear live music a chance to experience it and, through the raffle, support it. We gave our community the gift of music and in return they supported us throughout the year, some people even donating outside of Coconut Grove! Our music program was one of the best in the state. I got to attend several honor bands with the support of the program, an amazing and enriching experience for any musician.

For me, this event was my chance to share the wonderful music we made and, in volunteering, to give back to the program that has provided me so much love and experience over the years. The raffle has helped support our program year after year, enabling us to continue to learn and create music.