On three dates in November, member stores of the Independent Music Store Owners (iMSO) across America collected thousands of pounds of food, and donated that food to local food banks. With strong support from D'Addario, Curt Mangan, and SIT, music stores restrung guitars with quality, name-brand strings, in exchange for non-perishable food items.
Uptown Music in Keizer, Oregon spent all of November 12, 2011 restringing 160 guitars (a 26 guitar increase from 2010), and as a result, was able to donate approximately 800 pounds of food to the Keizer Community Food Bank.
Jim Nardi, owner of Uptown Music, described his local event as a "big success".
"This really was a success on two fronts", Jim said. "On the one hand, the community donated a lot of food for the Keizer Food Bank, and the food bank takes care of a lot of people. That was needed. One the other hand, we saw a lot of neglected guitars brought back to playable condition, where they can bring joy to the players again.".
Lisa Kirkwood, of Discount Music of Jacksonville (FL), said that while the total number of instruments restrung was down slightly this year, the total pounds of food collected was way up. "This year with the help of D'Addario and Curt Mangan we changed around 60 sets of strings and collected 1500 pounds of food. We are very proud of our local musicians and supporters of this yearly event.".
Other music store owners around the country echoed Lisa's sentiments, and noted that their communities were very charitable, bringing in more food this year than last year.
Glen Giles, owner of Gorilla Guitars in Columbus, GA, added "This was our best year yet with donations; about 250 lbs. Someone even brought in 2 cases of canned green beans! We had several bring in donations but no guitars; that's okay. It's getting the food in that matters most."
Glen is pictured on the right, restringing one of the 45 guitars that were brought in for renewal.
Strings for Food events will conclude on Nov. 19 at Backstage Music in Starkville, MS. Backstage has adopted this program this year for the first time. Allen McBroom, one of the owners, is optimistic that the Starkville community will support the cause. "Starkville has a strong history of supporting philanthropic causes, and what cause could possibly be better than helping feed the hungry?". The store has put out posters around town, has local players volunteering to help with the work, and the Starkville Daily News will be covering the effort. "We're excited, and can't wait to see the total collection," McBroom said.
When the entire Strings for Food effort is complete, the iMSO members hope to set a new record, not for restringing guitars, but for helping those who need it the most.