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Band gives back to community

Charitha Isanaka | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Though there is no service requirement for members of the Notre Dame Band, around 20 to 40 students make time to engage in service in the South Bend community each week.

Senior Michael Schwind, band president, volunteers with the Salvation Army of St. Joseph County’s “BandLink” program, which offers music and band instruction to local parochial schools that may not have the means to offer such programs.

Schwind said the young boy he tutors in the program enjoys learning to play instrument.

“[My student] gets so excited to be able to learn and to take his trumpet home and practice,” he said. “I am able to guide him and help him get better while still having fun.”

Schwind said working with the children is beneficial for him as well.   

“It is rewarding to take time out of my day to help and see how the kids progress,” he said.

Junior Samantha Matthew, band service commissioner, said she sees an impact on the children in the “BandLink” program.  

“These programs give the kids something to look forward to and something to continue for a very long time,” Matthew said. “Getting involved in music can shape one’s college life or future even. I am glad that I can be a part of shaping that foundation.”

In addition, band members tutor children in four South Bend elementary schools twice a week and host a holiday concert with their students, Schwind said.

Some band members also participate in game watches with the sisters of Saint Mary’s convent for at least one away game during the season. Throughout the game, the members play concerts for the sisters, Matthew said.

During the holiday season, some members of the band will add volunteer activity to their schedules.

Matthew also said the band will serve food at the South Bend Center for the Homeless during the Thanksgiving season, and the band will participate in the “Adopt a Family” program at the Salvation Army during Christmas.

The program entails buying Christmas gifts for children and families who can’t afford them. This year, the band will “adopt” 17 children, Matthew said.

“We get a note-card with the child’s name, size and age,” she said. “We buy Christmas gifts with the money that the band usually raises. My [band] section usually tries to provide a winter coat or shoes which would make a world of difference for a little kid.”

Assistant Band Director Matt Merten originally started the band’s service programs, but the programs are student-run and completely voluntary, Schwind said.