The Gift of Music is a Victoria fundraiser and charity event in which people can donate instruments that gather dust in corners of their own homes to a child who will use it and cherish it forever.
It started in 2018 when Avi Lugassy and Carly Murray, owners of Soupa Cafe in Victoria saw a social media post someone had made. This person had a guitar they no longer used and they wanted it to go to a good home.
A lightbulb lit up in Lugassy’s head that would set him and Murray on a path of good samaritanism for years to come.
Lugassy decided to facilitate getting this guitar to a kid to use, having had his first guitar donated to him at a young age, Lugassy knew exactly what type of joy this gift would bring a child.
That year, Lugassy and Murray wound up having five guitars donated, all of which landed in the hands of kids whose parents couldn’t readily afford to buy them an instrument.
The next year, Lugassy and Murray approached the event with a bit more planning and gave away over 35 instruments in an event that had kids come into a decorated space to look like Santa’s workshop. There each kid was matched with an instrument based on their needs.
“One guy turned up with seven guitars,” said Lugassy. “Another family also brought five brand new guitars.”
“People are really touched by this event.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020’s event had to be cancelled, but only for the charity’s benefit. It gave Lugassy and Murray time to plan it on a larger scale in a pandemic setting the next year.
In 2021, they had over 100 instruments to distribute and their GoFundMe garnered them $3,600 to buy more instruments, amps, cables, guitar strings and anything else they could gather to give the children that would receive them a complete ‘Gift of Music.’
“We don’t want to give a kid just an electric guitar,” Lugassy told Victoria Buzz. “That’s like handing their parents a bill for an amp and cables and strings and a strap.”
“We want the Gift of Music to be a complete package for the children and their parents.”
Other local businesses were quick to hop on board the giving train, by offering to be donation locations so people wanting to donate their instruments wouldn’t have to travel across Greater Victoria to donate at Soupa Cafe.
In addition to pairing each instrument personally to each kid, Lugassy and Murray have all the stringed instruments cleaned up with the help of Long and McQuade on Hillside Avenue and Guitars Plus on Blanshard Street. Plus, Lugassy and Murray have always made sure that every child and their families get a free meal from Soupa Cafe when the time comes to give out the instruments.
Long and McQuade also give the organizers of this event a discount every year to ensure every dollar donated to the Gift of Music’s GoFundMe can be stretched as far as possible.
In 2022, in the midst of converting the old Esquimalt bingo hall into a massive new Soupa Cafe and commissary kitchen, a feat that has Lugassy and Murray working over 80 hours a week, they are hoping for another massive donation year.
So far they have had 33 instruments dropped off to one of their four donation spots. They are anticipating so much more.
Hoyne Brewing also chipped into this year’s Gift of Music by making it their monthly charity for October of 2022, raising $800 for the good cause.
People can contribute by donating their used instruments, or their instrument accessories to one of their donation sites, or if they don’t have an instrument to give, donate to the Gift of Music’s GoFundMe for 2022.
This year a benefit concert was organized by a friend of Lugassy’s at Quadratic Sound, who also wanted to help this good musical cause.
On December 9th, the benefit show will feature Hounds of Cuchulain, Benjamin LeClaire, Rob Filo and Lonnie Glass.
Those who donate an instrument to the Gift of Music will have free entry otherwise the show is $15 with a $5 membership fee to Quadratic Sound.
All proceeds from the show will go to the Gift of Music.
Anyone wishing to receive an instrument for their child who can’t readily afford to buy it for their child this year can register to receive one through the Gift of Music’s website.