The checks may be for small amounts, but their significance is great. As the North Monterey County High School band races to raise the last $4,000 it needs for its trip to play at the World War II Memorial dedication in Washington, D.C., on May 29, it is the World War II veterans who are shelling out. Band director D.L. Johnson said more than 80 percent of donations received in the last several weeks have come from veterans and veterans' groups. Many of the veterans, now in their 70s and 80s, have limited incomes and are unable to donate large amounts. But Johnson said he finds their donations as meaningful as larger, corporate contributions. "What has been unique is that they all sent letters telling us about their military service," said Johnson, a lobbyist for arts education. Contributors include a Bataan Death March survivor, B-17 pilots and soldiers who helped to free Europe in the conflict that raged from 1939 to 1945. World War II veteran Vahe Aslanian, who with his wife, Charlotte, contributed to the band, served in the South Pacific for 2 1/2 years. Aslanian, 86, said his rifleman medal holds a special place, and so does music: He taught music at Hartnell College for 30 years. "These children need this experience," Charlotte Aslanian said Friday. Johnson is still sweating over whether the last $4,000 will come in to cover the full $170,000 cost of taking 125 band members and 20 color-guard members to the nation's capital. "I have to rely on the community that they'll come through for us," he said. "I think they will."