By Art Holliday
GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KSDK) - The photo shows a smiling sixth grader Jade Heuer with an electric guitar around her neck. She's ready to rock. Granite City music teacher Don Stratton says Jade already plays several other instruments.
"She's one of those kids that's obsessed with learning instruments," said Stratton.
Stratton says many Granite City students wouldn't be able to make music without Play it Forward, a local non-profit that donates instruments to schools all over the St. Louis area, including Heuer's guitar.
"With what Sam gave us, between $20 and $25,000 worth of instruments, that's an incredible gift the school district wouldn't be able to afford because of budget cuts," said Stratton.
Sam is Samantha Fisher. Her day job is serving food and drink at the Broadway Oyster Bar in downtown St. Louis. Fisher's passion is collecting musical instruments for the non-profit she founded, Play it Forward. She estimates Play it Forward has distributed more than 600 instruments to St. Louis area students. Her mission got a boost recently when "The Steve Harvey Show" called from Chicago and invited her to be a guest.
"I went out and taped the show. Met Mr. Harvey. Boom, boom, boom. Things happened really fast," said Fisher.
What Fisher didn't know is that the Harvey show also contacted St. Louisan Jeff Mozingo, the owner of Mozingo's Music stores.
"We got the phone call from Chicago and they said 'Hey, we're going to have this on the Steve Harvey Show. And your name came up as someone who's supporting Samantha Fisher and the Play it Forward Program,'" said Mozingo.
The talk show has a segment called Harvey's Heroes, which recognizes good deeds. Once Mozingo learned what the show had in mind, he agreed to donate $5,000 to Play it Forward, and the money would be presented during the Chicago taping, which airs Friday at 4 p.m. on KDNL-TV.
"He said we also have a check for you and it was one of those really big, like the lottery checks," said Fisher, "and it was for $5,000 and it was from Mozingo's of St. Louis."
Jeff Mozingo says his motivation for donating money to Play It Forward is simple. Kids need to be exposed to music, the instruments are expensive, and many can't afford them.
"I do all kinds of things throughout the community to bring an awareness to music and that's kind of what happened with this Play it Forward," said Mozingo.
Fisher says the money is already earmarked to help a music program in East St. Louis, Ill., and she hopes the national publicity from the Steve Harvey Show will raise awareness about the need for used musical instruments.
"If you have a trumpet, a guitar, a violin, a cello, that's you're no longer using, it's a previously played instrument and it's just sitting in your basement, in your garage, your back room, just donate it to Play it Forward and we'll get it back in the music programs," she said.