By DELANIA TRIGG, Assistant Editor
Gainesville Daily Register
A local church has joined a nationwide effort to get band instruments into the hands of students who lost their entire music department in the tornado which leveled parts of Joplin, Mo. this spring.
Rev. John Hare of First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville said he first learned about the plight of Joplin High School’s band students through his contacts with the investment company Edward Jones.
Hare said he immediately got behind the collection effort.
“We had been in touch with the Joplin school through Edward Jones who is trying to work with the district up there,” Hare said. “We had heard about the project for band instruments and we ended up contacting someone at the school.”
First Presbyterian members plan to personally deliver the instruments — a few of which have already been dropped off at the church, he said.
The group is hoping to collect all types of musical instruments.
“We are looking for anything,” Hare said. “Someone brought a trombone in today and we have a couple of horn instruments, xylophones and a flute. It’s kind of an odd assortment right now. It’s a varied collection.”
He said the church isn’t taking any tubas or drum sets but is considering transporting donated pianos to Joplin.
“There’s the possibility of piano donations,” he said. “We’re contacting Joplin to see if that’s something they could use.”
Hare said aside from playing guitar “from time to time,” he isn’t a musician. Still, he sympathizes with Joplin’s high school band members many of whom lost a lot more than their musical instruments.
A story on the website cnn.com stated that some of Joplin High School’s 139 band members also lost their homes when the tornado cut a destructive 13-mile path through the city.
Residents from across the country have reportedly stepped up to help.
Little Elm resident Lanette Bowcutt — whose son is in the Little Elm High School band — started a Facebook page called "band-ing together for Joplin High School band,” the story stated.
More than 100 bands around the country are helping raise funds to help the award-winning Joplin Eagles get ready for a band camp that was set to begin Monday.
Hare said the instrument drive is a chance for residents to do something good.
“This is just one of those opportunities for you to dig in your closet and find that unused band instrument and donate it to brighten someone’s life,” he said.
First Presbyterian also has another tie to Joplin High School.
“The lady at the (Joplin) school district wanted to know what church we were from and when we said we were Presbyterian, it turns out she’s Presbyterian, too.”
The Joplin High School band instrument drive is going on now.
Donors may drop off their gently used band instruments at the church weekdays between 9 a.m. and noon.
First Presbyterian is located at 401 S. Denton St. in Gainesville.