This story was updated May 21, 2018, at 10:59 p.m.
When Annece Holts took over the band program at Orchard Knob Middle School last fall, she found only 12 instruments in good working order — a fraction of what she needed for the 80 students who had enrolled in one of the four band music classes.
Holts said she repaired some of the instruments, shifted students to what few instruments she had and began spending her Saturdays writing grants and figuring out how to raise enough money to secure more instruments for students in the inner-city school.
On Monday, the fruits of her year-long effort brought a $3,000 donation from the Krystal Foundation, part of $9,500 raised this year to ensure that next year all students will have their own mouthpieces and the band ensemble will have a more diverse instrument mix when the next school year begins in August.
"We have limited instruments and even less working instruments so this grant will make a huge difference for us," Holts said Monday. "This will greatly impact the number of students who can participate and their level of achievement."
By this fall, each of the students in the band should at least have his or her own mouthpiece, "which will be amazing for our students and the development of an even better band program," said Tiffany Earvin, principal at Orchard Knob Middle School.
Unlike many other Hamilton County schools where parents pay to buy or rent instruments for their children to play in the school band, most of the students at Orchard Knob are economically disadvantaged and are unable to buy or rent their band instruments.
Isaiah Cooke, a seventh-grade student who took up the alto saxophone for band this year, had to try to play other instruments for several weeks last fall while the instrument was being repaired.
"I tried to play the flute, but that was very hard and not what I wanted to play," Cooke said. "It should be a lot better next year."
Cooke and others hope to start a pep band next year to play during sporting events.
Paul Macaluso, CEO of The Krystal Co., said the gift to Orchard Knob is part of $78,000 of grants that the Krystal Foundation has given away to 37 schools since the restaurant chain established the charity in 2016. Macaluso came to Orchard Knob Monday along with sackfuls of Krystal breakfast and drinks for the band students.
"Our entire organization is passionate about participating in the communities we serve," said Macaluso, who is in Chattanooga this week for Krystal's bi-annual corporate-wide convention of district managers, franchisees and suppliers. "Krystal is committed to giving back, especially here in Chattanooga, where our story began."
Krystal is one of the nation's oldest fast-food restaurant chains, which began in downtown Chattanooga in 1932 and has grown to nearly 400 restaurants across 11 states.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.