Luxemburg-Casco students donate instruments to Guitars for Vets

Posted at 10:43 PM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 23:43:34-05
Luxemburg-Casco knows all too well the price of war. They lost two former students, Marines Jesse Thiry and Dean Opicka, in Iraq. While they honor their memories, they're also helping those who've returned from battle by giving them the gift of music.
During an assembly on Wednesday at Luxemburg-Casco Intermediate School, students celebrated raising $1,500 though their bucket battle fundraiser. You could hear the loud applause as student after student brought guitar after guitar into the gymnasium.
"The number kept going up and up and up, and my mouth dropped open. I'm just in awe of their generosity and kindness," said Erin Mendoza with Guitars for Vets.
Mendoza was there to collect 15 guitars donated by the students to the non-profit organization. Guitars for Vets gives veterans a free guitar, ten lessons on how to play, and the opportunity to join a group after they graduate from the program.
Mendoza says the music therapy helps veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. "Their anxiety lowers. Their family life improves." 
6th grader Mariah McFeely is happy to help after seeing the impact military service had on some of her relatives. "I know that my family members have been through a lot being in and fighting against other people. It can get really bad and really rough, and to give to them could brighten their day."
School music teacher Mary Schley is proud of what they accomplished, and how they used the power of teamwork to bring the healing power of music to our patriots. "I saw the light in my kids' eyes go on too and to see them know that they've made a difference for somebody and to see how Erin responded, I was just so happy. Just excited." 
The school was able to purchase twice as many guitar kits as originally planned, thanks to donations from Celebrate De Pere, the Ladies Auxillary, and the Instrumental Music Company.