With nearly 50 days left until Christmas, Nick Carter is already busy with holiday plans.
In addition to spending time with his own family Christmas Day, Carter will likely deliver presents to other families in Siouxland. What’s inside the gift bag, you ask? Guitars, guitars and more guitars.
From now until the December, Carter will be tasked with gathering and refurbishing these string instruments to gift underprivileged kids this holiday season as part of his grassroots non-profit organization Did You Play Your Guitar Today? And this time he’s getting a bit of help.
To help raise money for his holiday endeavor, Carter has teamed up with The Marquee to host a benefit concert featuring bands like Vibe Rations, Port Nocturnal, Call Me Cosmic, Sans Dula and Winter Wayfarer.
“[Marquee co-owner] Kelly Quinn reached out to me and said he likes what I’m doing and would love to throw an event,” said Carter.
Funds will go towards purchasing the instruments and distributing them to kids.
And Carter has made sure he has plenty of guitars to give. Currently, he has about 20 guitars saved up, both acoustic and electric varieties. More are being added to the pile thanks to donors. The benefit, Carter said, is going to allow him to seek out more guitars, parts and amps to make sure kids have a full functional instrument to play Christmas Day.
“It’s going to get things in the motion for me to start working,” he said. “I’ll have about two months to go clean house at a couple different pawn shops and swap sites, and then prepare these guitars, cleaning them up, stringing them and testing them all. And then it’s getting the kids chosen.”
Carter has given away about 25 guitars to kids within the past two years. The mission of the Carter’s organization is to help “recycle guitars and other lost or neglected instruments” and give them to children whose families can’t afford brand new instruments.
Did You Play Your Guitar Today? was created when Carter obtained a D'Angelico EX-SS guitar through a social media contest. Inspired by the giveaway, Carter rummaged through his collection and delivered five guitars to kids in-person on Christmas Day in 2015.
As Carter’s collection keeps growing and growing, the more he wants to give away.
“I just got one the other day with a guitar amp,” he said. “It was all dusty so I cleaned it all off. They’re just sitting there begging to be played, begging to be fixed and donated.”
What originally began as a monthly giveaway has now developed into an annual task for the holiday season. Carter made this shift in order to see his effort grow and expand. Outside of December, Carter is gathering more instruments and their respected amenities when he can, as well as cleaning up any existing guitars destined for donation.
“I spend a lot of time cleaning them up,” he said. “I love taking before and after pictures of when you get one and then seeing how nice they actually are. Every kid has to start somewhere with their guitar.”
This will be Carter’s third year giving away guitars to children. Carter hopes the benefit helps him take Did You Play Your Guitar Today? to the next level.
“I’m honored that that these guys want to help,” he said. “I’m nervous and excited to see how it goes. It’s something special and it means a lot to me. It’s amazing see the community come together to support this.”