Wind Ensemble launches Band Bodega to raise funds

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As a part of the Wind Ensemble’s fundraising initiative, the Townsend Harris High School Music Department has set up a convenient snack store run by band volunteers. The Band Bodega, located in the old coat room by the auditorium, is a student-run shop that sells a variety of food and beverages during lunch bands.

The Band Bodega is a part of the Wind Ensemble’s efforts to raise funds for a trip to Washington D.C. The money earned on a shift is divided evenly among each person manning the Band Bodega for that time slot and contributed towards their personal fee. Wind Ensemble Vice President and The Classic Accuracy Editor, senior Matthew Merino said “This concept is not new to the Wind Ensemble; it has been going on since [music teacher and band director Kevin] Heathwood came to THHS in 2018, but only now it has been blasting off with increased sales.” 

The Band Bodega originally started as an iced coffee business. [W]e were only a small pushcart that we had to haul into the lobby, limiting our potential when it came to sales and variety,” said Matthew. Mr. Heathwood said that set-up posed some difficulties. “People would spill things, sometimes they would forget to plug the refrigerator back, and it was just a hassle… but I’ve always had my eye on the coat room,” he said.

Now, the store has grown in both revenue and popularity amongst students. Senior and Jazz Band member Lynda Irizarry said, “It’s a super smart way for the music department to raise money while benefiting the school community.” 

Not only does The Band Bodega help with fundraising, it also creates better bonds between Wind Ensemble members, band leadership expressed. 

Each shift requires two people working, so the more often you work the more people you will be paired with. This gives everyone the opportunity to spend time with one another outside of the classroom setting. People can choose who they work with or work with anyone available, which allows for quality time with all of our group members,” senior and Wind Ensemble president Alyse Sayed said.

The store sells numerous snacks including baked chips, Flaming Hot Cheetos, Cup Noodles (veggie or chicken), Reese’s, and Kit Kats. They also have a wide range of beverages such as hot chocolate, teas, and iced coffee. Their coffee creamer flavors vary depending on the day, but they currently offer mocha, white chocolate mocha, hazelnut, French vanilla, and caramel.  

Due to colder temperatures, “a hot green tea has been my go-to!” Alyse said. 

The iced coffee is one of the more popular items on the menu since no other club fundraisers sell it.  Wind Ensemble member and sophomore Kiera Chan said that her coffee order is a  “cold brew coffee with white mocha or hazelnut.”

Unfortunately for students with fifth band lunch, the Wind Ensemble class also takes place then, meaning that members are not free. Sophomore Eliana Varkoutas, who has lunch during fifth band, said, “I like it but it’s never really open during my lunch band so I can never get anything out of it.” 

The Wind Ensemble is currently working on a plan to open during all lunch bands. Mr. Heathwood said, “I would just need to balance the musical needs of the group… but they’re a pretty advanced group and perhaps some of the student leaders… can afford to miss a couple rehearsals if they kind of have the music down already.” 

Some students said they find the pricing can be excessive. Sophomore Faith Park said, “I think the chips are pretty overpriced.” 

Certain members of the THHS Music Department find that the store’s prices are reasonable, given their fundraising goals. “The band has to make a profit somehow so they’re trying to make the best with what they’ve got,” Lynda said. The Band Bodega has flourished from a small iced coffee cart to a growing store. Wind Ensemble has plans to implement new ideas, such as suggestion forms, to the Bodega in order to implement student opinions. “I want to give the people what they want,” said Mr. Heathwood.

Artwork by Sophia Park, Art Editor