Virality of WBEJ story leads to donor supplying guitars

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Star Photo/Curtis Carden After a story by WBEJ in Elizabethton air after guitars disappeared, an anonymous donor supplied guitars to Carter County Schools.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden

With every share and view, Carter County responded in a tremendous way over the weekend.
In a report by WBEJ radio, a delivery of Squier Fender acoustic guitars to be used for the Carter County Schools System was disrupted when the guitars fell off the truck. At the time of the incident, a reported 20 guitars were reported missing.
The virality of the story by the radio station reached a climax just one day later when an anonymous donor reached out to donate 17 guitars. While providing updates on the story on the airwaves, reports about the story on the WBEJ Facebook page were heavily distributed with one post receiving over 100 “shares”.
“We had 17 guitars disappear off the back of the truck,” Central Elementary School principal Terry Morley said. “WBEJ went with the story, put it online and it went viral. I was contacted by an anonymous donor who came forward to replace 17 of the guitars. We’re very blessed and fortunate of the people here that take care of the kids in Tennessee, Central Elementary and in Carter County.” The guitars were offered to Title 1 schools through grant opportunities by the Tennessee Center for Civic Learning and Engagement, a 501(c) 3, which Morley added the school system utilizes during the school year.
“We have been able to take advantage of this program,” Morley said. “The students love to use these instruments. Our schools have been active in the program and we’re able to use these guitars at each of the different schools in the county.”
Morley added three guitars from the incident were returned by members of the community.
“I didn’t grab their names, but I would like for the people that returned the guitars to stop by my office so I can personally thank them,” he said.
With a community like Carter County, the positive outreach was not out of the ordinary, according to David Miller with WBEJ.
“It doesn’t really surprise me,” he said. “There are a lot of times with stories like these that the good outweighs the bad. It’s great to see the reaction from the public and all the feedback. I spoke with Mr. Morley today and he mentioned that an anonymous donor has replaced 17 of the guitars. It’s just a great thing to see that and it’s good to know the children of the community are appreciated.”
The support of the story even reached a national level with musicians, Morley added.
“We learned that some guitars will be signed,” he said. “The story reached some recording artists. Some of the guitars will be signed and later auctioned off to help raise money for upcoming state competitions.”

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