Bewildered looks became expressions of delight at Milton Public School recently, following a wonderful donation.
Five students, whose families lost homes in the Currowan bushfire crisis, were each given a guitar thanks to an ex-servicemen's based group.
Members of the ACT-based Soldier On Music Group, as part of their Bushfire Relief Guitar Program, visited the South Coast recently and brought the gift of music with them.
During their tour, they presented a number of children and schools from Bomaderry right down to Eden with guitars and ukuleles.
Group members Col Greef and Mike Hogan were joined by Soldier On programs officer Debbie Dimmock on the three-day South Coast trip.
Mike had been in the Shoalhaven a few weeks prior to this recent visit to present guitar.
Both Milton and Ulladulla Public Schools received guitars and ukuleles.
The five Milton students get to keep and take home their news guitars, while the two donated to Ulladulla Public will be available for all students to use.
The timing at Ulladulla Public was perfect as the school has just formed a guitar group.
Meanwhile, for five Milton students Millah McDermott (seven years of age), Taz McDermott (nine) Lucas Alderman (nine), Max McMath (11) and Grace Condie (12) playing music will be both fun, relaxing and healing.
The multi-talented Grace, who is a singer in the school's rock band 'Rock Solid Pop Corn', is looking forward to playing her new guitar.
"Playing music is a good way to relax and express yourself," Grace said.
Grace likes pop and country music.
Max is looking forward to developing his guitar playing and agreed that music was a good way to express yourself.
"Music is also nice to listen to," Max added.
Col, Mike and Debbie enjoyed meeting the students and they "wanted to bring some joy into their lives".
The trio asked the students about what they wanted to be when they grew up?
From police officers to paleontologists - gamers and professionals football players and actors are among the student's career dreams.
Mike and Col then entertained the students with some songs.
Milton Public's Deputy Principal Jason Barby could not thank the Soldier On Music Group enough.
"You just made the day of those five children," he said.
He told the visitors the Milton area was hit hard by the fire and 20 students lost homes.
In the meantime, Principal of Ulladulla Public, Trent Burns, was also grateful for the donations.
"This is a gift that will keep on giving," he said.
Mr Burns said he was sure the students would enjoy playing music with the guitars for many years to come.
About the group
About the group
Approximately 18 months ago a couple of Navy Veterans from Soldier On Guitar Group in Canberra, Colin Greef and Mike Hogan, decided to start a project that would keep them occupied while also helping the community at the same time.
It was decided to help not only Veterans but also help children that love music but for some reason either are unable to purchase or get access to a guitar.
The idea was to ask members of the public to donate guitars either in good or poor condition so that they could be repaired and then donated to children who are interested in playing music.
The response from the Canberra public has been above expectations where approximately 100 guitars and ukuleles have been donated.
To date over 30 guitars have been donated to disadvantaged children around Canberra and local areas and also schools in Dalgety and Adaminaby who have fantastic music programs for the children.
They hope that donating guitars to children will give them the encouragement to be active in music.
Music brings people of all walks of life together, not all children want to play sport.
Music to the Soldier On group is for a number of reasons not only mates getting together but also the therapeutic benefits of playing the guitars.
The idea to approach schools on the South Coast was because not only to put something back into the community but also the two people responsible for the project spent many happy days serving at HMAS Albatross.
The trip and presenting the guitars was planned shortly after the fires, unfortunately COVID 19 came along and put the plans on hold for a couple of months.
However, the trip was not forgotten.
Soldier On is a fantastic organisation, it all about mateship and we encourage any ex-service people, whether from Defence, Police. SES or any emergency department to get in touch with Soldier On.