Smithton Middle School students collect instruments for refugees

Thursday, March 11, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The transition to life in Columbia can be difficult for African refugees, but 11-year-old Mamie Davis is trying to help them march to a new beat.

While her parents were offering the refugees rides to the grocery store and others were teaching them English in language classes, Mamie, a sixth-grade student at Smithton Middle School, found a new way to help. She's going to provide them with musical instruments.

"It's just a way where they can really express themselves," Mamie said. "Sometimes it helps with their language, too."

Mamie worked with her friend Sherry Xie to develop a project called "A Hopeful Sound." They're collecting used musical instruments from the community to give to the refugees.

Mamie said she checks her e-mail as soon as she gets home from school to answer questions about the project. Sometimes she has to arrange rides to pick up instruments, too.

"We were definitely energized and excited to do this," she said. "It makes me feel really proud and happy to help."

So far, Mamie and Sherry have collected five instruments. That's a lot more than the one guitar the refugees currently have.

You can drop off instruments at these locations:

  • Smithton Middle School
  • Grant Elementary School
  • Missouri United Methodist Church
  • Mustard Seed Fair Trade store

If you don't have any instruments to donate, Mamie said they need help in spreading the word about their project.

They're also looking for people to repair instruments. If you're interested in helping out, go to the project's Web site at

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