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Pieces of Eight

marching band
Pictured above in a Nov. 24 performance, the ECU Marching Pirates have been holding an annual food drive since 2000. This year most of the food collected went to Greenville’s Firstborn Community Shelter. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)

Marching Pirates ‘Band Together’ for Food Donations

By Judy Currin

When the ECU Marching Pirates take on the challenge of collecting non-perishable goods for their annual “Band Together and Give” Food Drive, the result is as stellar as a game day performance.

“A marching band demonstrates that a group of individuals coming together dedicated to a common purpose can accomplish something far greater than themselves, that brings joy to others,” said Brian Campbell, graduate assistant to Marching Pirates director Chris Knighten.

The idea for “Band Together and Give” originated in 2000 during an ECU Band Day.

“Every fall we invite area high school bands to perform with us during halftime of one of the home games,” Knighten said.

“While they are here for a day of rehearsal and game, we provide a picnic lunch for all the students who attend.” In 2000, one of the registered bands did not show up.

The Marching Pirates found themselves with extra meals and decided to donate the food to a local shelter.

But the shelter, they discovered, could not accept prepared food.

“Dr. Knighten asked the band how they would feel about having a food drive, as a way of giving back to the community that so wonderfully supports us at each football game,” Campbell said.

“It was a way of making sure some of the struggling families in our area would have one less day to worry about how they’d feed their loved ones.”

The response was enthusiastic.

Every year members of the Marching Pirates bring in hundreds of non-perishable goods.

“Sections of the band compete to see who can bring in the most,” Campbell said. “Some members enlist help from their families and churches back home, forming a network of giving that stretches across our state and often into others.”

According to Knighten, the ECU Marching Pirates is the largest student organization on campus, with 241 members. “More than one percent of the entire student body is a band member,” he said.

Student participants set a new record this year gathering and donating 1,321 cans. Over the years Knighten said they have become more and more creative with their collection efforts. Some of the students produced “Band Together and Give” flyers, distributing them in Greenville neighborhoods before Halloween. On Halloween night small pep bands entertained those neighborhoods while collecting the donated can goods.

The concept of “Band Together and Give” allows us to share with those less fortunate just before Thanksgiving,” Knighten said. “But it also provides an opportunity for our students to experience the true rewards of volunteering and giving.”

This page originally appeared in the Dec. 7, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at