PIF STL Gets Local School Marching Drums

A New Drum Line for KIPP Inspire Academy

Just heard from David D’Antonio of KIPP St. Louis. “I have so much respect for Play It Forward and what they’ve did for the kids last month,” he writes. “To watch them run into the gym and open these boxes to find a full set of instruments for a marching drum corps was one of the highlights of my career. They are so excited for the chance to make music on real instruments, and the affect it has on them will go far beyond playing on drums.”

Pretty exactly a month ago (May 6), Play It Forward Founder Samantha Fisher and some of the members of the PIF Board (including me) also had a remarkable day. David had founded a drum corps for kids at this free college-preparatory public school that allows for a great education focused on high expectations for kids who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity. On his own he founded the drum corps as an “extra” and, prior to us getting involved, he had the kids beating on buckets because that’s all they had.

Sam got involved six months prior to work on this and went from trying to just getting them “started” on a few drums to “let’s get them an entire set”. Enter the generous local radio personality John Carney who financed it and we decided to surprise the kids with four snares, three bass drums, three sets of toms, and two sets of cymbals.

The look on the kids’ face was certainly worth it to us. To get to talk to David, a few of the other high level administrators, and of course some of the wonderful 5th through 8th grade students was an amazing moment for everyone in the room. To be clear, this was no handout, just an opportunity. These kids are working hard to succeed despite challenging conditions. This was a big moment for Play It Forward, but every week we get a free instrument in the hands of a hopeful child because we believe the opportunity for a young person to let his or her spirit soar should not be limited to the privileged few.

I’m reminded of something that shows up in my church’s bulletin every week. In reporting on the latest work that members on the Social Justice team are doing, there’s always this: “We can’t do everything, but we can do some things”. No, PIF can’t do everything, but we can do sure do some things. With your help, we can more things.

That would make our friend Sam happy. When it was time to leave the gym and the kids drumming away behind, she had a big smile on her face and said, “I could do this every single day”.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Kevin M. Mitchell