MIAMI – It’s almost Thanksgiving and that means it’s time for the Miami High School band’s annual fruit fundraiser, just in time for the holidays — and holiday gift giving.

Beginning this week, band members at the high school will be selling a variety of fresh, ripe, delicious fruit, including apples, oranges, grapefruit, pears, apples, tangelos and more.

And, while it may seem an unusual match, MHS is pairing with J-M Farms in Miami, where they will sort and package the orders they receive, a union that has proven successful in the past.

Packaging features the Wardog logo that was designed especially for the fruit sales and the baskets hand packed by band students include a card with their signatures.

“The fruit sales are going to start Tuesday morning, the 19th, and it will run through Dec. 2. The kids are selling to raise funds for a Chicago trip where we will be competing in a national concert band competition in March over spring break,” said MHS band director Toye Harris. “There is a variety of fruits and you can do a couple of fruit basket options: You can do just oranges, you can do oranges and grapefruits, and you can do oranges and pears, and so on. And there will be some options with apples and tangelos,mostly citrus stuff.

“The kids actually put them all together once the orders are made. We have all our merchandise shipped in to J-M Farms and then we meet on a Saturday morning once everything arrives and hand put the baskets together – they are gently packed with Wardog band pride,” Harris said.

Prices and an order form for the fruit will be on the band’s Facebook page starting Tuesday. The Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce also has all the information to share with its members, and the school will do some sponsorship-type letters later, after the fruit sales are completed.

There have been many businesses look forward to this fundraiser over the years because they use it for their employees as Christmas gifts, etc.

“This is a tradition that has been in Miami for as long as I know. I have been here 23 years and it was well established before I got here, so I would say close to 40 years, a really long time,” Harris said.

“The contest we will compete in is by invitation only, so we have been invited by this organization to compete because of our achievements. It is a reputable and prestigious opportunity to compete on the national stage.

Harris said “It’s a trip of a lifetime. A lot of our kids have never and may never get to travel so it is a nice educational experience. We will go to the Chicago Symphony, to the theater to see ‘Blue Man Group,’ and we will see a lot of the Chicago sites – the historical areas, the art institute, and the Skydeck at the former Sears tower.”