A local Navy veteran is calling on Canberrans to give away their guitars, so they can be repaired and gifted to adults and kids going through tough times.
Colin Greef has been repairing and handing out guitars for the last 3 years and has just given away his 250th instrument. However, he’s calling for more donations as his stock is now less than 6 guitars.
His charitable efforts have seen him travel as far down as Eden, and through Nowra, Adaminaby, Crookwell, Laggan, and many other locations.
“It started just over three years ago now. I’m also a volunteer with the AFP and there were two young boys there who lost their father, and I had some spare guitars. These two boys were interested in music, and I gave them two guitars, and I saw the look on their face and how happy they were. I thought ‘wow that’s really nice’,” he said.
“I had another couple of spare guitars, and I gave them to some veteran friends of mine, and it just kicked off from there. I thought ‘I can really help people by donating musical instruments’, mainly guitars, and it all started from there.”
Colin’s work managed to gain traction from a Canberra City News article, calling for a few extra guitars.
“They did an article on me and what I was doing, and I was hoping ‘oh I might get about 10 to 12 guitars donated after the article’. The Canberra public was just absolutely incredible, and over 3 years I’ve had over 250 guitars donated,” he said.
Colin said he never expected to get the result he has, “I thought it was just a one-off thing. As I said I gave the two police boys guitars and I gave a couple of army veterans guitars, and I thought ‘well if I can get another few, I can give them away to the children down the south coast who just got devastated in the fires’.”
“The ball just kept rolling and it’s just carried on, and on, and on, and now it’s been going on for 3 years and I’m just having a terrific time doing it. It’s a great pastime for me and something for me to do in retirement.”
Colin has previously had his efforts backed by not-for-profit group Soldier On. However, he has recently had to go it alone. He pays for his travel and accommodation himself, with a friend who assists with the repairs.
“It is getting tough… I’m lucky I’ve got one friend who’s a veteran firefighter and is a musician. He repairs all the guitars that I get that are broken. He spends a lot of his own money on that,” he said.
“But now that I’m touring around, I have to pay for my own accommodation, my own incidentals, my meals, petrol… The last two days I’ve spent over $100 dollars just in petrol.”
He continued, “but you know something? It doesn’t bother me. I’m willing to pay that. To see the joy on the faces of these children, it’s worth every dollar I spend.”
“It is expensive, but I’m retired, what else do I do?” he chuckled.