Gerald Ricke, Director of Bands
address: 18725 Bates Avenue, Eustis, FL 32736
phone: 352-357-6220

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How much food did The Mustangs donate to Hearts and Hands?

We have the weight of the food drive to

The Eustis Middle School Mustangs donated 980 pounds of food. This was enough to feed one cities needs for two weeks. 

Can not wait until the Spring Break Food Drive so we can beat this one... Thank you Carol Kranich Stacks for helping out and the Broker family also for all the hard work they did!

Monday, December 23, 2013

What were The Eustis Mustang Band Members doing for their community this December?

Seanna Pickens 6th grade Jazz Band
   Tis' the Season to give. But give what? Items? The Mustangs say give a little time to your community. This is Seanna Pickens and she responded for Community Service during November. Seanna spent her time at Deliver the Difference located on Kurt Street.Deliver The Difference provided Thanksgiving meals for over 1,000 of our residents.  

     Right now there are over 2500 homeless children right here in Lake County. There are thousands of families in this area who will not experience the joy and comfort of a holiday meal. Sure, they're grateful for the things that really matter, as we all are, like health and close friends and family. But we all know what it can mean to be able to sit down together and share a meal and fellowship with those we love.

Kirk Simpson 8th Grade Jazz & Steel Drum Band

Kirk Simpson spent a day at Eustis Heights Elementary with some other Christmas Characters. Kirk was a Christmas elf who helped hand out brand new books to all the children there. Many children in our community are from families who are struggling so anytime a new book can be read by a child it brings imagination, creativity and knowledge. Many years ago, when Wendy Simpson asked a child at Eustis Heights what he was going to ask Santa for at Christmas time, he said, "I would love a book of my very own." That day, with Lee Ann Whipple they decided to start a program called "Reading With Santa". Thank you to the PTO for carrying on the tradition.

The entire month of December The Eustis Middle School band students held a food drive.
The Broker Family, The stacks Family and The Purvee Family
The only goal was to put food on the empty shelves of a food bank right here in their community. With 61 percent of our student body on free lunch The Mustang Caring For School And Community Program wants to help their community now, but it has a goal of getting more children participating in the band, therefore raising higher education degrees and bringing back this group of children into our town adding income to our local's future economy. "It takes a community to take care of a community" Cherrice Purvee, The Eustis Mustang Music Association President says. "And that is why we the association supports all these children for giving back". As Diane Popieski from Hearts and Hands says "volunteering a few hours here is a great way to earn community service hours". But this food drive came from the heart straight to Hearts and Hands. Hearts and Hands is located on Bay Street in Eustis and is an easy place to donate food or items for their variety store.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How did The Eustis Mustang Food Drive Go?

The Mustang December Food Drive went very well.

Thank you Band Families for all the donations!

The Eustis Middle School Mustang Band wanted to do a food drive. They decided to do a food at Winter Break and Spring Break. Giving to Hearts and Hands was a wonderful idea that The Eustis Mustang Music Associations Community Chairperson, Carol Stacks suggested during one of the Mustang Music Association's monthly meetings. 

Hearts and Hands is located at 231 N Grove St, Eustis, FL.

This organization helps feed 2300 people every two weeks with food distributions located all through Lake County. 

They are all volunteers that work hard each week ensuring people who are having a rough time making it eat healthy. They get food donations from Winn Dixie and Publix. Also some government subsidized help. But they depend on the many donations they receive in the year. And when the donations are light, as they have been this year this organization purchases the needed food. At about 5 grand per month. During the visit Hearts and Hands explained to The Mustang Band that the variety store next door is responsible for paying for this bill as it pays also the rent and utilities. The Mustangs also learned that Hearts and Hands depends on their community. They help many in the community but if it were not for volunteers than there would be no Hearts and Hands. And 4,600 people would have to worry about were their next meal would come from. These meals are given to families, just ordinary people who are struggling with the grocery store prices. Some of The Mustangs got to meet many of the volunteers that help Hearts and Hands. If you would like to give your time to a great casue please contact Diane Popieski at 352-589-4011. 

Food Donation Delivery 1 of 2 trucks.
Hearts and Hands explained that they even pick up items once or sometimes twice n a week to keep their variety store full of new merchandise. And every time and item is sold it goes right to the brown bags that feed the mouths of those who can not. So if you have large furniture that you would like to donate to a great cause this is an easy way to do it. Just give them a call and they will schedule a pickup. Or if you clean out your closet just drop them off to their location. Every dollar counts. 

Hearts and Hands allowed the children to volunteer and they made 45 brown bags for families in a nearby town. This took about ten minutes due to the team work and organization that Hearts and Hands have gained through experience. Started in 2003 as a small church food drive turned into a food bank that feeds thousands. The Mustangs were told that they were all welcomed back and Diane Popieski explained it is a great way to earn community service hours for college. But for today The Eustis Mustang Band helped for the Heart. It is the season to give. And The Mustangs did! Thank you to The Broker Family, The Stacks Family and Kenneth Purvee for all the hard work of loading and unloading. We will announce a pound count as soon as we get it!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Mustang December Food Drive For Hearts and Hands

On Saturday Hearts and Hands, is meeting us at the school.

We invite any band families that would like to be apart of this event. We are meeting at the school at 9:30-10:00 am. Then we will follow the Hearts And Hands Truck to the building that is only about a mile away from the school.
All month long the band students collected non-perishable food items. Mostly canned fruit and veggies. 

Hearts and Hands are opening their hearts and doors for our band students. They will teach them why and how the food bank works.
Here is more information about this non-profit program.

Thank you to Carol Stacks for all your hard work on the coordination 
 And we are so proud of the students for all their hard work and dedication to putting their hearts and hands together for our community.

Variety Store
About Us

What Is Hearts and Hands?

Our mission is to provide food to eligible families, the first and third Friday of
every month at various locations.
Our Variety Store sales support our food distribution

Senior Residents Housing

Franklin House Colony Court
2400 Kurt St., Eustis, FL 32726
(10:00 am-11:00 am)
Click For Map

Colony Court
801 Mt. Homer Rd., Eustis, FL32726
(9:00-10:00 am)
Click For Map

Eustis Villas
2726 Kurt St. Eustis, FL 32726
(10:00 -11:00 am)
Click For Map

North Lake County Locations

Eustis First United Methodist
600 S Grove St., Eustis, FL 32726
(9 am to 12 pm)
Click For Map

Calvary Chapel of the Lakes
250 Guerrant St., Umatillal, FL 32784
(3:30pm -5:30 pm)
Click For Map

Paisley United Methodist Church
24980 CR 42 Paisley, Fl 32767
(11:00 am- - 2:00 pm)
Click For Map

Altoona United Methodist Church
42631 SR 19, Altoona, FL 32702
(10:00 am till 1:00 pm.)
Click For Map

Central Lake County Locations

New Life Covenant Church of God
33741 S. Haines Creek Rd., Leesburg FL 37488
(10:00 am -12:00 pm)
Click For Map

Tavares First United Methodist Church
600 W. Ianthe St., Tavares, FL 32778
(10:00 am -12:00 pm)
Click For Map

South Lake Locations

Edge Memorial United Methodist Church
441 S. Main Ave., Groveland FL 34736
(11:00 am-1:00 pm) and 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm)
Click For Map

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A true story about one of our Jazz Band students and how she raised funds for the band

Here is a nice story.....

We have a Jazz Band member. She wanted to help raise funds for the band. So she set out to write letters to her family members and friends. She explained what the band does for her and why she loves being apart of The Eustis Mustang Band.

In return her family and friends sent in checks. Some were for $25 and some were for $100. These mostly came from people out of state that would not normally be at our concerts and such. These letters were written to those who could read her passion and not hear it.

The story is touching and we appreciate you Carolyn for being such a great role model. Exactly the attitude the Mustangs have! We are so lucky to have dedicated students in our program. Which has more than ten percent of the entire schools student body.

Carolyn receiving her awards at the banquet last year,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eustis Music Mentor Progam

Music Mentors is a program shared by Eustis High School and the Eustis Middle School Bands. Directors Mr. Ricke of the Eustis Mustangs and Mr. Flenner of The Eustis Panthers created this program to ensure quality music education and performance through mentor-ship. The desire to develop a greater appreciation for the art of music and by giving the next generation an opportunity to receive the best training possible in music education by their peers.

Through strategic partnerships, music awareness, and quality teaching, these bands are in the process of building a music program worthy of national and international recognition. Music Mentors is a Bi-weekly program. Any middle school student can sign up, he or she lists what they want or need for example: assistance with the all-state audition, jazz music etc.

  • The Music Mentor Program is meant to help those who want to advance at a faster rate.
  • The Music Mentor Program provides a transition into the high school program     
  • It is a fun way to learn from your older peers.
  • It gives the middle school students a chance to get together with piers that play the same instrument as they play in a personal setting.
  • One on One setting with a “big brother/sister ” environment.
  • Recruits students into the high school band.
  • The high school students come early and sit in with the students during their band classes.

     The program is designed both for remediation and moving to upper levels. This is a volunteer program on both parts. It is the The Eustis Middle School musicians choice to use that time for improvement and the program would not exist if The Eustis Panthers High School musicians were not such great role models.

     Using the Music Mentor program helps the middles school band children learn their notations and helps them keep their timing and tunes correct. But it is more than that. First the High School Panther students inspire these young children to stay in band by entering the high school program. This program is directed by Mr. Flenner and is an awesome music education program that is multi-diverse, It is a completely volunteer program on both sides. Each student in both schools are wanting to participate. there is no recruitment or try-outs. The Eustis High School Panther students are all using their own time, and this is above their own commitment to the High School band program. And that is hours and hours during the week for their own practice time, in and out of school. 

     We are fortunate to have some of the best children located right here in our town. Some of the high school volunteers are Lauren & Ali Bowman,Nic Colarossi,Nicholas Witt,Jenna Glendinning, Emily Cutlip and Jared Mahair most or all participated in Mr. Ricke's middle school program before moving on to the high school.. They help our community in great ways. First and for the long run, any child that stays in a long term music education program is statistically 84 percent higher to move on to get a bachelors of higher. So for our community the more of our young youth that stays in school to obtain an education means more support in the cities future. Second and more for today's world. By these older students using their own time to come in and mentor. According to CNN in an article, "Despite our idiosyncrasies in listening, the brain experiences music in a very consistent fashion across subjects," said Daniel Abrams, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine. Brain regions involved in movement, attention, planning and memory consistently showed activation when participants listened to music -- these are structures that don't have to do with auditory processing itself. This means that when we experience of music, a lot of other things are going on beyond merely processing sound, Abrams said.

     The students working together will improve test scores and attendance all around as well as inspire the younger students to remain into the long term music education programs that Eustis has to offer that starts in elementary school and carries on to high school. 

 If you would like to make a donation or for more information for the Eustis Mustangs go to and if you would like to donate or want more information to the Panthers go to For any questions via phone please call Mr. Gerald Ricke 352-357-3366

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Eustis Middle School Mustang's New Trailer. We are looking for sponsors who want their logos added!!!! Please share!

The Mustangs have a new trailer.
This one is 27 foot long. Giving plenty of space for the band program to grow!
We need to add some ads on this huge white traveling billboard.

Please if you or your business is interested contact me at