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Where It All Began: Zion-Benton Township High School Band Fundraiser

Posted by WFC Team on Oct 9, 2017 8:23:00 AM

After raising over $4,000,000,000 (yes, that's billions) for schools and organizations across the country, World's Finest® Chocolate is going back to where it all began. In March 2017, after surpassing $4,000,000,000 in funds raised, World’s Finest® Chocolate CEO Eddie Opler – who is the grandson of Founder Ed Opler, Sr. - wanted to do more to acknowledge this spectacular achievement. What better way to do that than to pay tribute to our first customer?

Back in 1949, the Zion High School Band sold our chocolate bars to raise money for a trip to a band competition in Virginia Beach. And with that first sale, product fundraising was born. The band has sold our chocolate bars throughout the years, and is once again selling dollar bars this fall to raise money for a trip to Orlando in March and to begin a multi-year effort to raise funds to purchase new band uniforms. Their latest band fundraiser kicks off on Monday, October 2...and besides the incentives of matching funds and prizes we're making available, here are some other band fundraising ideas that can help.

Image: Zion-Benton high school band fundraiser sign. Our first customer, in 1949!


On October 6th, our CEO Eddie Opler visited the ZBTHS Band to personally thank them for being our very first fundraising customer.

The late afternoon rain cleared by halftime of the varsity football game, when the ZBTHS band along with members of the three area junior high bands took the field for their shared performance.

Picture: The Zion Benton High School and Jr. High Marching Bands, kicking off a multi-year fundraising drive for new uniforms

Before the bands began to play Eddie made his presentation from the Press Box:

“Hello everyone. My name is Eddie Opler, and I’m here tonight on behalf of World’s Finest Chocolate to thank the Zion-Benton Township High School Band for being our very first fundraising customer.

My grandfather founded World’s Finest® Chocolate in 1939, and ten years later, began our fundraising  business with the then Zion High School Band. Back in 1949, under the leadership of Band Director Jim Sanford, the Band sold our chocolate bars to raise money for a trip to a band competition in Virginia Beach. The band’s latest sale kicked off on Monday, to raise money for a trip to Orlando in March and to begin a multi-year effort to raise funds to purchase new band uniforms.

Earlier this year, World’s Finest® Chocolate reached a major milestone of raising over $4,000,000,000 and we couldn’t have done that without you, our very first customer!

We are incredibly grateful to be here tonight, 68 years later, to say thank you. To express our heartfelt gratitude, we’ve created a special incentive program to help make it the best sale the band has ever had.

  • World’s Finest® Chocolate will match the band’s fundraising sale up to $10,000.
  • We will also provide a $1,000 prize to a band member who sells two cases or more.
  • Some of our employees are here selling $2 chocolate-covered almonds, mints and caramels for the band at our tent by the concession stand, where you can enter to win a 5-lb. Almond Bar!
  • Plus, we’ve outfitted the band and junior high band members with a special t-shirt that the Band Boosters will be throwing into the crowd momentarily.”

During Eddie’s presentation, Band Booster Club parent volunteers stood on the track with large signs to highlight the features of the special incentive program.

Picture: Band boosters holding up signs about WFC matching $10,000 in their band fundraising effort

Picture: Band booster holding up large $1000 check as a prize for most sales in the fundraiser

In addition to the planned celebration, a surprise visit from some very special guests made the evening even more remarkable. Chick Sanford, son of Jim Sanford – the ZB Band Director who first partnered with WFC to fundraise – brought his 95-year old mother, Betty to the game. While the weather did not cooperate for Chick & Betty to stay the whole time, Eddie met with them both and was able to personally thank them for their dad’s and husband’s impact on WFC. Until last week, Chick and his two brothers were not aware of their Dad’s extra-special connection to World’s Finest® Chocolate, and were very touched by the story.

Chick and Betty Sanford meet with Eddie & Rochelle.jpg

Jennifer West, the ZBTHS Band Boosters President, had this to say about the event,“The presentation, the props and the tent sales were so much more than we could have ever imagined when you contacted us months ago and I just want you to know how much the Band Boosters appreciate everything you are doing for us.  I have had so many nice comments from people I have run into since Friday about how fantastic it is that the Worlds Finest Chocolate is doing this for our program.  The kids are genuinely excited and the chocolate is selling like crazy.”

Picture: band boosters with cases of personalized promotional cases of band fundraising chocolate

Thanks to the ZBTHS Band for being the First and the Finest! Good luck with your sale!

For questions or media inquiries, please contact Raleigh Decker at 773-890-2210 or at rdecker@wfchocolate.com.

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