A donation from a local high school band will soon be source of pride for youths in a developing country.
The local group, which did not want to be named, recently got new band uniforms and donated two gaylords -- or four-by-four boxes -- of their former uniforms to Matthew 25: Ministries.
"They're something different," said Patty Dilg, director of operations for Matthew 25: Ministries. "Schools don't have them to get rid of daily."
"A donation like this allows us to expand our everyday outreach and perhaps provide some additional or different kinds of aid to people," said Joodi Archer, development and media director for Matthew 25: Ministries.
Matthew 25: Ministries is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1991, which serves impoverished individuals in developing countries as well as disaster victims.
Through the organization's humanitarian aid program, products like building materials, food, medical supplies and household items are shipped to individuals in more than 60 countries, including the United States, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. The organization also has provided disaster relief in the aftermath of numerous hurricanes, tornadoes, chemical spills, wildfires and other catastrophic events.
In addition to humanitarian aid and disaster relief, the nonprofit works with partners to provide targeted programs to help meet specific needs. Such efforts include installing wells, a recycling program and a beekeeping program in Nicaragua.
Although Matthew 25: Ministries accepts donations ranging from clothing to pill bottles to latex paint, band uniforms aren't very common. In 22 years working for the organization, Dilg has seen only about four or five donations of band uniforms.
"We do sometimes get donations from schools or from organizations and groups for fairly specific types of things like sports uniforms or school uniforms or band uniforms," Archer said. "There are always organizations we work with in developing countries who are thrilled to have those kinds of things."
The request to not receive attention or credit for donating the most recent batch of band uniforms is an indication that the group members are "doing it for the right reason," Archer said.
"I think it's a very generous gesture and one that shows that the heart of this particular band group is in the right place," she added.
The uniforms will be offered to partners in developing countries. While the organization's representatives aren't yet sure where they'll wind up going, similar specialty donations in the past have commonly been shipped to Latin American and Caribbean countries, like Nicaragua and Jamaica.
One particular partner organization that works with Matthew 25: Ministries has developed a music program in numerous countries to encourage students to attend school more regularly, Archer said.
"Education is a very important asset in a developing country," she said.
The students benefit not only from being in school, but also from the skills they learn as a member of the band.
"Marching bands, or bands in general, tend to give children far more in general than just a music lesson," Archer said.
Being a part of an extracurricular group like a marching band offers a creative outlet for youths, while teaching them about social interaction, discipline and responsibility. Those skills can help them stand out as adults, when seeking employment in countries where jobs are scarce, she said.
And being a part of a band and wearing a uniform can boost self-esteem for students in developing countries.
"It just adds to that whole atmosphere of pride," Dilg said.