Orange County Register Writes About Our Center!

Thursday, October 9, 2008
Strum, drum, dream: Donation means kids can play
Exhibitor sends drums, horns, guitars to Santa Ana center.
The Orange County Register
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SANTA ANA – In the eight years since the Orange County Children's Therapeutic Arts Center opened, plenty of music teachers have been willing to teach children how to play drums, guitar and saxophone.

The problem: a severe shortage of instruments.

That all changed this afternoon when a semi-tractor trailer arrived carrying 45 new instruments, including two drum sets, acoustic guitars, and brass and woodwind instruments.

All for free.

"Wow," said Daniella Cervantes, 11, as she got her first look at the shiny instruments lined up on tables. "It's very nice and it looks artistic. Now we'll all get a chance to play."

The donation came from a San Francisco Bay-area convention exhibitor – with local offices in Tustin – who read about the center in a Register article last month.

The exhibitor, Coastal International, installs booths at trade conventions and works with Michael Musical Instruments, based in Brazil. The companies work together every year at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, a massive music-merchant exhibit, and store loads of instruments locally after the show ends in January.

The instruments are displayed at the show. Afterward, typically, they are stored until sold. These just didn't sell.

Bob Hill, an executive at Coastal International who lives in San Juan Capistrano, read about the arts center and wanted to help out.

"It cost the company money to store these instruments, so we were looking for a worthy cause," said Hill, who is also an advisory member of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. "I saw this group in the paper and I thought: Perfect."

The arts center, which provides after-school dance, music and art classes for at-risk students and children with developmental disabilities, relies heavily on grant funding and private donations – money that has been hard to come by during the current economic downturn.

About 1,000 children go through the center's doors each year.

"This is so exciting for us. The timing is perfect," said Ana Jimenez-Hami, director of the arts center. "Providing our kids with this kind of activity is exactly what will keep them away from drugs and violence."

The center used to have two electric guitars, which meant students could never check them out to take home and practice. With the donation, it now has more than two dozen six-string and bass guitars.

Several children who got their first look at the new instruments this afternoon stood back in disbelief. But once they started plucking guitar strings and banging on congas and cymbals, the room quickly became a cacophony.

"This is a big help," said Gustavo Figueroa, 19, who grew up going to the Arts Center and now works there. "Now children can come here and learn. And they can explore their creativity."

Contact the writer: 714-704-3769 or


aI hear rummors of excitement about this from my students on Friday. Their excitment is spreading like wild fire.

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