Why They Give


After you’ve spent some time at Materials for the Arts you realize that some donations are not simply items given away to make room for something new. In the eyes of their original owners these pieces are  imbedded with comforting memories and deep-running emotions . So when our donors discover what this act of giving means to our recipients, the saddeness they feel of parting with their treaure is often offset by the joy connected with helping an organization in need.

Sometimes we are fortunate enough to hear these stories. Below is one such tale from a public school teacher and recent donor entitled “My Piano Got legs” :

I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn. 

My mom totally supported my interest (and dare I humbly say, my talent) in the performing arts.  She schlepped me into Manhattan for voice lessons. (in a studio on West 52 Street, that was above the now Ed Sullivan theatre, where i got to sneak in and see the Saturday dress rehearsals for the Ed Sullivan show.  Remember that little act from Liverpool?  Saw ’em!).

Then we went uptown to West 66th Street for elocution lessons!  And there was no Lincoln Center yet and it was just the empty lot that is actually in the opening overhead credits for the movie West Side Story).

And then there were the piano lessons…on the upright Kimball….and all the plaster of Paris busts of all the great composers sitting atop it following each year’s recitals.

Fast forward to the Nineteen-Ninety’s and closing up my mom’s apartment and the Kimball coming to live with me.  Now, it became my photo holder, displaying pictures and its keyboard cover remaining shut.  Librettos and sheet music in the bench having been replaced with manuals for attaching bike racks. pretty sad…

Fast forward again to March, 2010.  Redoing my house…finding organizations to donate furniture to…all good.  And what of my piano?  MFTA of course!

We get a call from a lovely music teacher working in a new middle school.  She comes to northeast Queens, on a Sunday, on her own time, to do good for her students and school.  She leaves happy and now all that stands in the way of her and the piano is to get bids and generate a purchase order for movers to take the piano away. 

While this is going on, we get another call!  from Sing for Hope.  The organization is looking for 60 pianos to be painted and put on display throughout NYC for 2 weeks in the summer for public use!  The initiative is called Play Me, I’m Yours.  At the end of the run, the pianos are to be donated to schools, based on the organization’s criteria.  Betty-Boop-grandpa-lightbulb moment!  I call Sing for Hope and ask if the school that is working on picking up my piano might meet their criteria AND if the school could wait to receive the piano till early summer AND if they would move it to the school  THEN, they could have it first and the school could also have it!!!

Several e-mails later – it is all in process.  The piano is currently in a warehouse in Tribeca awaiting painting for its debut!  Sing for Hope is staying in touch with me to tell me where the piano will be during the 2 week public display, and the middle school is having the piano delivered (at no cost to them) in July.

SO, my piano got legs!!

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