Aiding the Marines, Nine at a Time

Benefit Saturday will raise money for wounded vets and those serving
A selection of Musical instruments sent in 2008
A benefit in Amagansett Saturday will raise money to send supplies to a Marine unit in Afghanistan and to give musical instruments to veterans. Pictured above is a selection sent in 2008. Walter Noller

    If all goes well Saturday at an Amagansett fund-raiser, a Marine unit deployed in Afghanistan will be getting a shipment of much-needed items very soon.
    The event is called Music for Morale, and it has a dual purpose: supplying a team of nine marines with large, water-carrying backpacks and wrist-mounted global positioning devices and raising money to buy musical instruments for recovering veterans in United States hospitals. It will run from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Stephen Talkhouse on Main Street. Admission is $20.
    The marines, part of the Second Division, Fourth Marines, and in a combat zone, will have Megan Collins of East Hampton to thank when the packages arrive. Ms. Collins felt she had to do something when she learned that the son of a close friend would be overseas during the holidays. She thought about sending a gift of cookies, but then thought again, resolving to get him something he really needed.
    Through her friend, a question was relayed, and the answer surprised her. The regular-issue water-carrying backpacks the unit had been issued were too small to carry much else in the way of supplies or personal items. They had seen backpacks that another unit had and thought that they would be significantly better. They had GPS devices handed out by the corps, but they were cumbersome, and having ones on their wrists would be an advantage.
    Ms. Collins was not new to the process of helping military personnel. She had been involved with the Wounded Warrior Project from its earliest days. And, she helped with an initial effort to send musical instruments to veterans in New England.
    To outfit the nine-member Marine unit will cost about $2,700, plus shipping. Ms. Collins said a volunteer had tried to get in touch with Garmin, a leading GPS manufacturer, seeking a discount, and that a friend of a friend worked for Federal Express and, she hoped, might be able to get a good price on shipping the packages overseas.
    Robert Bruey, a singer-songwriter from Southold who is among the performers in Saturday’s show, said that it was important to him that Americans not forget the soldiers themselves. “It is important to realize that these are actual people, not just numbers,” he said.
    Mr. Bruey said he planned to perform a song he wrote about Army First Lt. Joseph J. Theinert, a Shelter Island resident who was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan.
    Also in the lineup for Saturday are Dick Johansson and the Highlanders, Joe Delia and Thieves, the Blue Collar Band, Michael Weiskopf, Mariann Megna, and Job Potter.
    There will be raffle prizes with items and services from local businesses and food will be provided by Springs Pizza, One-Stop Market, and D’Canela and Indian Wells restaurants.
    The project to gather and distribute musical instruments and supplies has its roots in a similar effort organized by Walter Noller, an East Hampton musician and Army Reserve veteran. Back in 2008, Mr. Noller tapped fellow musicians and cash donors and was able to amass roughly $3,000 worth of instruments that were handed over to a New England veterans group for distribution.
    “I wanted to do something good for the wounded soldiers, to give them respite from their pain and suffering — and it worked,” he said.
    He said that one of the 2008 recipients, a soldier who had lost an arm, had his prosthesis retrofitted so he could play again.
    This time, Mr. Noller hopes to deliver the instruments personally. He also hopes to develop a Web site that would allow donors to keep track of those who receive the instruments. “I wanted this time to show people where their money was going,” he said.
    Gifts of instruments will be welcomed at Crossroads Music in Amagansett. Michael Clark, the shop’s owner, will offer a discount to those who would like to buy something to support the project.
    “There has been an incredible positive response from local musicians,” Mr. Noller said. Many, he said, were expected to part with some of their own gear. “You see them going through a mental note of their inventory.”
    Donations already include a drum set and a guitar. “Our job is to find them homes,” Mr. Noller said.


David, Thank you so much for the terrific article! I do want to make one point, though. I am just one of a large group of people involved in this effort. All of the musicians and their supporters have all taken part in a great many ways, I was just the one to organize. I would rather, on this the birthday of the US Marine Corps, focus on the ongoing effort all of our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen are putting forth. They are the ones to be commended and prayed for. Godspeed to them, may they be home safe and soon. Thanks again, Megan
Thank you for writing about this event that is close to Megan's heart and to ours, David.