Drums Not Guns, Students on Musical Mission to Jamaica

Coconut Creek, Fla.  (July2 2009) – Separated by hundreds of miles and different cultures, two groups of high school students are about to discover their common bonds: a dedication to Christ and a love of music.

On July 6, 2009, nearly a dozen students from the Strake Jesuit College Preparatory band in Houston, Texas, and two neighboring schools will travel to Jamaica to meet their counterparts from St. George’s College Jesuit High School in Kingston.

Ahead of their trip, the Strake students had raised enough money to outfit a complete 40-piece band. They donated the money to the Florida-based charity Food For The Poor that, in turn, equipped the boys at St. George’s with musical instruments.

While they’re in Jamaica, on a Food For The Poor mission trip, the Texas students will get together with renowned musician and musical teacher Winston “Sparrow” Martin to help the St. George’s band students build up their musical talents and repertoire.

Martin is the music director for the Alpha Boys School in Kingston, one of Food For The Poor’s Angels Of Hope schools. Alpha was founded in 1880 as an orphanage and, over the years, has earned a reputation for turning out some of Jamaica’s greatest musical talent. Past Alpha students include Tommy McCook, Johnny “Dizzy” Moore, Lester Sterling and Don Drummond (the founding members of the group The Skatalites), Yellowman and many others.

Food For The Poor’s President and CEO Robin Mahfood grew up in Jamaica and attended St. George’s. He says many of the students there today face tremendous challenges that, with faith and guidance, can be overcome.

“For a child living in the inner city, the lure of gangs, guns and drugs is strong,” said Mahfood. “But our band program is designed to give youth an alternative. Pick up a drum and put down the gun. It is a way for children to discover their talents and passions and seek a better future by embracing music.”

Many children in the United States take for granted the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument and join their school’s marching band. For poor children in the Caribbean and Latin America, it is only a dream. Through its gift catalogue, Food For The Poor offers the gift of music – everything from a snare drum for a child to instruments for an entire marching band. The online catalogue is available at www.FoodForThePoor.org/giftsforchildren.

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States, serves the poor of the Caribbean, Latin America and the U.S. Food For The Poor provides food, emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, basic housing, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. More than 97 percent of all donations received in 2008 went toward programs that help the poor. For more information, visit www.foodforthepoor.org.

Hugh Graf
Public Relations
(954) 427-2222 x 6610