ALVARADO, Texas - The Alvarado High School band was able to attend their end of the year banquet on Friday thanks to community members who stepped up after a theft.
Kristen Meyer was a band booster volunteer who was arrested for allegedly stealing $46,000 from the band booster club.
For a few days, it looked like the band banquet would have to be canceled. But then the community stepped up to help the band members.
With zero money at their disposal, the band boosters had decided to hold a simple potluck at the high school. But thanks to the help from strangers, they were treated to a feast.
Billy Woodrich, owner of Fort Worth’s Billy Oaks BBQ, and his staff worked overtime to get 175 pounds of brisket, ribs and sausage ready to devour.
“I thought, ‘If I can make a bunch of kids happy, that's great,’” he said. “I've got this whole motto: If you don't give, you don't get.”
Woodrich felt compelled to cook for the Alvarado Golden Warriors band members after hearing Meyer, the band booster’s treasurer, was arrested for allegedly stealing from the booster club. So he and his staff delivered the food to the banquet personally.
Rhonda Gilbert is the band booster club’s communications director. She also has two daughters in the band and says the organization has been flooded with calls from strangers wanting to help since the story first aired on FOX 4 News.
“We’re a big family in this community,” she said. “And we pull together. It's just what we do.”
Gilbert says the theft has been a learning experience for the band boosters.
“We are basically starting from scratch, obviously, because we didn't have anything. So we're starting from square zero,” she explained. “We've made some changes to our bylaws to make sure that there's more safeguards in place.”
But during Friday’s banquet, the focus was not on the financial loss, but on the community coming together to help the kids get the banquet they deserved.
“I'm actually really proud of our community,” said band member Piper Gilbert. “It's really amazing to see how we can come together when one part of it's in crisis.”
Risky's BBQ in Fort Worth and BBQ on the Brazos in Cresson donated the dishware and sides.
Two banquet halls offered their venues to the band, but school officials opted to keep the event at Alvarado High School.
There's also a car wash being held Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Brookshire parking lot in Alvarado.