'We Pick for Food': Music teacher, students strum for others’ suppers

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Stories from the Heartland

By Jeff D'Alessio

Terry Strange has offered music lessons on “anything with strings” since 1978.


It was interesting a few weeks ago how the meaning of those dozens of lessons each week took such a drastic turn, thanks to what one 5-year-old student noticed near Interstate 65. There, Stuart Owens saw a man holding a sign that read, “Will work for food.”

It struck an emotional chord in the youngster and in the music teacher when Stuart told Stange what he saw.

“I just thought that was the cutest thing when he told me,” Strange said. “I think it can show that musicians really care and that they are good people.”

The “We Pick for Food” campaign was born out of what Stuart saw and what Strange agreed to do.

At each lesson, one of the expectations is every student brings a can of food. Outside the music studio is a box of contributions that are given to Warm Blessings soup kitchen. His students range in age from 4 to 86.

In doing the math for number of students and average number of lessons each year, Strange expects students from The Music Studio of Terry Strange to donate about 4,000 cans or items of food to Warm Blessings.

“Four thousand cans of food makes a big difference when you are a nonprofit,” Strange said. “The students have been pretty regular with bringing them in. We have had a pretty good first couple of weeks.”

In addition to canned foods, toiletry items also are collected. Donations are picked up on a weekly basis.

“It’s just a way to help out,” Strange said. “We wanted to help out the homeless and those in need in town.”

Even more than collecting food, many students want to take their efforts to Warm Blessings by volunteering in any way needed at the East Dixie location.

“Some of the students want to volunteer this summer and help out by serving or cleaning up around Warm Blessings or maybe provide some free entertainment,” he said.

Located in Suite 6 at 428 W. Dixie Ave. in Elizabethtown, Strange said the drive is open to the public.

Strange offers lessons in various genres from southern rock to Bluegrass. All who take lessons from him have one requirement: “They have to learn some form of Gospel music to take lessons here,” Strange said.

Strange expects the drive to flourish as bringing food to lessons is becoming a habit with his students.

It has become so popular, some students often bring more than one can to their lessons, he said.

“It’s donated from the students,” he said. “It’s their way of helping someone out.”

Stories from the Heartland appears Mondays in The News-Enterprise. Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.