Kitsap residents donate musical instruments to victims of California wildfires

More than 200 donated musical instruments will be heading to Paradise, California in order to bring a bit of music back to the victims of wildfires that ravaged the surrounding area last fall.

A donated U-Haul truck is currently being filled with instruments and other items, and is set to depart Bainbridge Island on Monday, April 8. Over the past several months, local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with other community members, have been gathering a variety of instruments including brass, woodwinds, guitars, strings, pianos, keyboards and drums.

The surrounding communities in Kitsap County have also pitched in their efforts, with Gig Harbor and Port Angeles seeing sizable contributions as well. Also making the trip down to California will be donated pet food, supplies and a veterinary table. The items are set to be delivered Tuesday, April 9, directly to the families and even school music programs who lost many instruments in the fires.

Bob Schofield, the Band Director at Paradise High School and Intermediate School, was one of the music faculty members who was greatly affected by the wildfires that occurred last fall. He pointed out the overwhelming support he’s received since the wildfires.

“I didn’t have to go out and seek it [help], it came to me,” Schofield said. “Because it was such a national story it just spread. I even had a couple of instruments mailed to me from Boston.”

The instruments are indeed going to keep coming to support the Paradise community and surrounding areas.

Some 22 instruments that were checked out to students were destroyed by the fire, Schofield said. “These donations will help replace the temporary instruments I’m using now. It’s been a big relief and takes something off my plate.”

Schofield also touched on the personal toll that the wildfires have taken on him and his students.

“There’s been a lack of normalcy when it comes to personal life. We still have students living in apartments and rental trailers,” he said. “I’m living in a rental house an hour and a half away. It’s been a lot of adapting until we can get back and start rebuilding some things.”

These donations were initiated by John Meyer, the stake president for the local congregations in Chico, CA. Meyer was concerned that after the initial rush of response for Paradise residents, people would forget what had happened. This prompted Meyer to ask other stake presidents around the West Coast to show the local Paradise community that they are remembered. Members of the Silverdale congregation decided that donating musical instruments would resonate most with the Paradise community.

“It’s been amazing on both sides because we’ve talked to the people down there,” said April Devers, the director of public affairs for the Silverdale Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “These people are living in tents, trailers, hotels and with family members. They’ve been overwhelmed with the idea that they can get their guitar back.”

— Tyler Shuey is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at