When Niles McKinley Band Director Carla Dean mentioned the aging instruments marching band students were using to retired Niles High School teacher and VFW Post 140 quartermaster Tom Karovic, she had no idea her words were having such an impact.
So much so that the Veterans of Foreign Wars veteran's organization has donated more than $10,000 since September to help replace some of those instruments. Last week, the organization handed another check for more than $5,000 to the Niles Band Boosters.
''We have many aging instruments that were bought in bulk in the '60s and '70s,'' Dean said. ''We are so thankful for these donations that enable us to replace some of them.''
Dean said over the years, the instruments have been repaired, but many of them are so worn out, there is nothing else that can be done.
With no saxophones made after 1978, Dean said most of the instruments include concert tubas, baritones and trombones.
''A lot of the specialty instruments such as the bassoons, oboes and French horns all belong to the school,'' Dean said. ''The marching band instruments are in the worst shape.''
The cost just to replace a tuba runs in the neighborhood of $3,000, Dean said.
''When Carla told me about her instruments, we (VFW) were looking to pick a local charity to donate to and decided on the band,'' Karovic said.
VFW Post 140, located on Higgins Avenue, holds several fundraisers throughout the year to raise the money they donate, Karovic said.
The club hosts open houses for Memorial Day and Veterans Day in which the public is invited to the post home for refreshments and fellowship. The organization has also donated to the VFW children's orphanage and will be looking to donate to disabled veterans in the future, he said.
Military veterans of foreign wars are invited to join the organization, Karovic said. Regular membership is $25 annually. Regular members have voting privileges.
''We are veteran owned,'' said John Elliott, Post Commander.
Niles VFW Post 140 was formed in 1934, Elliott said.
Veterans interested in helping the community and becoming a member can visit Post 140 canteen or call 330-544-2336.