by Victor Pinzonn –
If legendary singer Frankie Laine could have his way, every disadvantaged child in America would be able to learn how to play a musical instrument or sing. The 84-year-old entertainer, with 21 gold records to his credit, is leading a campaign he hopes will bring in donations of musical instruments for needy kids being helped through The Salvation Army’s after school programs.
“Music changed my life in a very special way, and I believe with all my heart that it can make an important difference in the lives of children who face poverty and other problems,” says the singer.
Laine recently recorded a public service announcement for the Army that has produced delightful results. According to Donald Read, who coordinates music programs for the Sierra del Mar Division, more than 100 calls have been received and more than 40 instruments have been collected. “Experienced musicians are also calling to volunteer their time to help the kids,” says Read.
Lt. Colonel Donald Sather, divisional commander, is enthusiastic about the response. “Our music programs are rapidly expanding to help disadvantaged kids after school. The donations are a great blessing to the children who would never be able to learn how to play an instrument without the Army’s help.”
Laine has also conducted several music training sessions for underprivileged children in his beautiful Point Loma home in San Diego. Sather, who visited Laine’s home recently for an impromptu music class, was impressed with Laine’s talent and his dedication to helping the children.
Thanks to Frankie’s enthusiasm, the program is rapidly expanding and garnering the attention of many celebrities who want to support The Army’s efforts to help needy children through music.
Laine hopes to be an active spokesman for The Salvation Army music program while maintaining a busy schedule that also includes finishing work on a new CD, set for national release in October. The Reader’s Digest Association released a three-CD boxed set in May.
In 1995, Frankie designed a special keepsake Christmas ornament for The Salvation Army, and his “Old Shoes” drive that he launched in 1991 has brought in several hundred thousand pairs of shoe donations throughout the county.
Frankie was also honored with The Salvation Army Tradition of Caring Award in 1993 for his impressive support of The Salvation Army and a long list of other charities.