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Nonprofits Band Together for Instrument Drive to Benefit Santa Barbara Youth

Organizers are in need of new and old instruments to be distributed to students in the community

Several local nonprofit organizations are hosting the second annual Instruments and Equipment Drive for Santa Barbara Youth this month.

The drive actively pursues donations of new and old instruments for disbursement through local school districts and other nonprofit organizations. More than 80 instruments were donated last year, with an estimated value of more than $12,500.

“It is with great joy that we are able to put instruments directly into the hands of musically inclined youth in our community,” said Sand Stahl, chairwoman of the Santa Barbara Bowl’s Education Outreach Program.

One third-grade girl dreamed of playing the ukulele, and last year’s drive gave her that chance. Not only did she learn how to play the small guitar, but she received tips from Jack Johnson, arranged by the Bowl’s outreach program.

Eric Shiflett, marketing director for the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, said he wants children to have the opportunity to have music in their lives.

“I probably have the best job in town working for the Santa Barbara Bowl,” said Shiflett, who grew up a musician. “But to go out and try to pay it forward is pretty exciting, and having success with a project like this, I can’t even express it. When we saw the smiles on the faces of the boy with the violin and the girl with the ukulele — that’s what it’s all about.”

The Santa Barbara School District decided to expand its music program, and last year’s drive gave students a chance to play an instrument. Now, every fourth-grader in the district receives the opportunity to play a violin, said Laura Inks, director of the Granada Arts Education Project.

“The thing that gets cut most quickly is creative arts,” she said. “Those are the things that let kids think creatively, succeed more in school and hopefully get them interested in the arts.”

The instruments stay within the schools for future classes of students to play, said Margie Yahyavi, executive director of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.

“When you donate an instrument, as long as it’s properly maintained, that instrument can serve kids for 30 years — a donation can go a long way,” Yahyavi said.

The instruments will be tracked “adoption style” as donors were encouraged to include a personal note for the new owner, and every organization was asked to supply donors with information on how each instrument was used to further someone’s musical experience.

“We hope you enjoy this instrument and the joy music can bring,” wrote Francis, who donated her flute.

The nonprofits that worked together to put on the drive include the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, the Granada Arts Education Project, Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach, New Noise, Notes for Notes, the Santa Barbara Symphony and the State Street Ballet.

Donations will be accepted during the Holiday Sound Check from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 3, at 1129 State St. There will also be donation booths at The Granada during the Dec. 11 performance of Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, the State Street Ballet’s Dec. 18 performance of The Nutcracker, and the Santa Barbara Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Pops Concert on Dec. 31. All drop-off times are from noon to 7 p.m. on those days.

Otherwise, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or call 805.960.5145.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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