When an online bingo gaming company employee in Mountain View found out that a San Jose high school marching band was robbed during a bingo fundraiser last week, he went to his bosses to make things right.
On Thursday, employees from Luckity.com will hand members of the Oak Grove High School Marching Band and Guard a check for $5,000, roughly the amount stolen from a bingo game when a masked robber, who said he was armed, entered the gymnasium on Dec. 11 about 9:30 p.m. and took the cash intended for the band. San Jose police have not found him.
“We should help them out,” Eric Hartness, vice president of Luckity.com told NBC Bay Area, in recalling his colleague Jeremy Clemons’ conversation with him. “I said, ‘That’s a terrific idea.’ We felt fortunate to be able to help the band by replacing the stolen money. Now the kids don’t have to worry about raising more money and can focus on practicing for their next big event.”
Clemons learned about the story through a tweet from NBC Bay Area, which was the first news agency to break the story. He followed the links in the story and was able to easily reach the band.
Luckity.com is operated by a division of Churchill Downs Incorporated, headquartered in Louisville, Ky., which owns and operates the Kentucky Derby racetrack.
Members of the marching band, who normally raise between $50,000 and $100,000 a year through bingo fundraisers, are touched by the generosity.
“They called and asked if they could write us a big ol’ check,” marching band program director Teresa Moura said. “And we said, ‘Sure.’”
Not only is the band receiving a check from the online bingo company but two other anonymous donors gave the band $3,500 and Wesley Pharr handed the band director Chris Moura another $500 on Wednesday.
Pharr said he’d match that money up to $1,000 if someone else donated $500. In all, the band has more money now than what was taken during the robbery.
But the band now also has more expenses.
Moura said a parents’ group last week decided to spend extra money on hiring an off-duty police offer and video surveillance to install – and take down – each week at the Wednesday night bingo games, which have gone on for 25 years.
Wednesday night will be the officer’s first night on duty, and his cost is $12,000 a year, Moura said.
“Any money we get is going back into bingo,” Moura said.
The award-winning band uses money from the fundraisers, mostly for travel. In fact, the band is flying to Europe over the holidays and plans to march in Rome on Dec. 29 and in London for a New Year’s Day Parade.
To find out more or donate to the band, visit ogbb.org.