SCSDB might start a band with these gifts

By LYNNE P. SHACKLEFORD

Published: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 3:15 a.m.

The S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind will be a happier and much noisier place because of a generous gift from the S.C. Pawnbrokers Association and the Lions Club.

Students and staff members of the school were surprised Monday afternoon with trumpets, drums, xylophones, cymbals, guitars, flutes, saxophones, drums and other instruments collected by the pawnbrokers during the past few weeks. In honor of National Pawnbrokers Association Musical Gift Day, the state association selected SCSDB to receive the musical instruments as gifts.

The school’s Fine Arts director, Chip Walters, said she has longed to bring musical instruments to the campus, but budget cuts and cutbacks in grant funding made her wish impossible to fulfill.

She and Melanie Gladstone, who teaches music classes to all students, were overwhelmed by the surprise presentation made following the annual Lion’s Club luncheon on Monday. Students thanked the club for its year-round support with a musical presentation.

Walters and Gladstone were brought to tears when they saw the instruments, most with gift bows attached.

Gladstone said she wanted to introduce students to musical instruments, but thought it would have to be done in phases because of the expense.

“We’ve just taken a huge stride instead of a lot of small baby steps,” Gladstone said.

“Instruments were high on our wish list because these students might not have an opportunity to play if they don’t get it here,” Walters said. “Every child has an opportunity to participate in fine arts, and this takes it to the next level where they’re able to learn how to hold and play instruments.”

Marquise Malachi, 10, is a deaf student at the school and has never played a musical instrument. Now, he will learn.

Walters said some of the deaf students are slightly or moderately hearing impaired, and some can hear beats and vibration.

“Most of our students love to dance, love to sing, and this gives them another outlet,” she said.

Eric Johnson, a 20-year-old blind student, has played the drums his entire life. He now will help other students learn to play.

SCSDB Interim President Maggie Park said new doors were opened at the school Monday.

“There are so many new things we can do now,” she said. “We can expand after-school program offerings and have a small band — this is just wonderful.”

The pawnbrokers association began collecting instruments a couple of weeks ago from more than 20 pawnbrokers statewide. Janis Feazelle, president of the S.C. Pawnbrokers Association, said new instruments will be added, and the school will be outfitted with replacement parts and musical stands.

Jim Starnes, the second vice district governor for the Lions Clubs in the Upstate, is the owner of American Pawn Exchange in Greenville, Woodruff and Taylors and is a member of the National Pawnbrokers Association. He partnered with Wendy Bailey of the Spartanburg Lions Club to get the school’s wish list and helped pull off the surprise.

After seeing the students’ faces, Starnes said it reaffirmed the group’s decision to donate instruments. Read the full article…