Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 25, 2013

Boy Scout adopts needs of local Salvation Army

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Zach Shelton hopes to bring new voices to quiet, old instruments as part of his efforts on behalf of the Ashland Salvation Army.

“The main focus is on the musical program, but we’re helping in other small ways, too,” said Shelton, 17, a junior at Paul G. Blazer High School who has adopted the needs of the local Salvation Army for consideration as an Eagle Scout project. A Scout since he took his oath as a Cub at the age of 10, Shelton said his work on behalf of the Salvation Army includes a plan to enlist his fellow Scouts to help with an Easter Dinner.

Shelton, who also plays baritone in the band at Paul G. Blazer, is asking area residents to look in their attics, closets and garages for any unused musical instruments they might consider donating to a drive aimed at elevating the church’s music program.

Maj. Darrell Kingsbury said the Salvation Army music program follows the church’s traditions, modeled after the horns-and-percussion foundation of British brass bands. The local program can make immediate use of any brass-style instrument, as well as any other instruments or music-related accessories. Guitars and keyboards can be especially useful, Kingsbury said, noting they could really use a bass guitar to go with a donated electronic keyboard and guitar which have already been contributed.

“We’ll take anything. We can either use it or trade it toward other things. Sometimes pawn shops will work with us,” Kingsbury said, explaining his faith in the power of music to make lives better.

The Salvation Army’s music program can also make use of things such as music stands, mutes and other accessories, especially mouthpieces for brass instruments.

“It seems we always get horns with no mouthpiece. Who knows what happens to them?” Kingsbury said with a chuckle. Electric guitars, amps and accessories are welcomed, he said, although their program can most use acoustic guitars for group instruction at this time. Electronic keyboards can also be quite useful for group instruction, he added.

“Music makes better students and less problems,” he said, citing studies which have measured the effect of musical studies and instrumental pursuits on academic performance.

“Zach is showing these kids they can develop skills and abilities and then move forward,” Kingsbury said, explaining he is aware at least a couple of local students who used their interests in music to pursue scholarships and other educational opportunities. “Zach is showing them they can be leaders even at a young age.”

Kingsbury said education is a key to transforming people’s lives, with music education often providing a crucial foundation.

“We encourage, very strongly, all of the people we work with to stay in school and make good grades,” Kingsbury said, noting the Salvation Army has several programs in place specifically designed to encourage and reward those who do well in school.

Shelton said he hopes the instrument drive will be an effective way “to get instruments into the hands of those who need them,” and has pledged his own time and talents to teach people how to play.

“So far, all we’ve gotten is a guitar and a keyboard. The drive is for all instruments, but brass is what they really want. We’ll take anything that anyone want to let go,” he said, adding the instrument drive began about five weeks ago. While awaiting for approval of the project as an Eagle Scout effort, Shelton said he is deeply committed to the musical mission.

“I want to keep this project going as long as possible,” he said.

Kingsbury said anyone with an instrument to donate can bring it by the Ashland Salvation Army at  2212 Carter Ave. “Just say it is for the music program,” he said.

Instruments can also be donated to Chris Whelan at the Paul G. Blazer High School Band Room. Shelton said anyone with questions or a contribution can contact him by calling The Ashland Salvation Army at (606) 324-5751.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.