NEW GLASGOW – Philip MacKenzie’s holidays were looking rather bleak this year.
Two days before Christmas, his companion Velma MacPherson had passed away after a battle with cancer.
But with a strong faith that has always let him look ahead with a positive attitude, the silver lining he was looking for showed itself on New Year’s Eve.
MacKenzie has been collecting funds to purchase guitars for children at the Atlantic Burn Camp and he recently decided to donate them to the camp in honour of the children who died in Newtown, Connecticut, earlier this month.
“There were 20 children that died and I had 20 guitars,” he said. “I thought what if I had permission from Newtown to donate the guitars in honour of the Sandy Hook Elementary School children that were killed.”
MacKenzie said Central Nova MP Peter MacKay’s office gave him a number to contact for the town hall in Newtown and he spoke to several different people about his project before he was given an official OK.
“On Monday, I was going out to pick up my last guitars and I thought I would make one more call,” he said. “I called a lady at the town in Newtown, Connecticut, and she wanted me to go over the project one more time with her, and after hearing about it again, she said she would endorse it.”
He said such good news couldn’t have come at a better time.
“This project is not a one-man show,” MacKenzie said. “It’s about a community coming together. Pictou County is known for helping people and doing fundraisers. I had some disappointments doing it, but with every disappointment, there were a half a dozen positives.”
MacKenzie will travel to the Atlantic Burn Camp in August with his 20 guitars as well as two plaques he had made up in honour of everyone who donated to the project. He will spend a week at the camp helping the children learn how to play the guitars and will leave them with four hour-long instructional DVDs as well as printed worksheets that will assist them with their training.
“You’ve got to keep beating the bushes and doing the best you can,” he said. “My concern is for these dear children that lost their lives and these children at the burn camp will know where these guitars came from. They are representing these children.”
MacKenzie said he also knows that MacPherson would have been proud of his efforts.
“She really wanted me to see this through,” he said. “I wouldn’t have given up no matter how sad things are. It was just meant to be. On the final day of the year, I got my last two guitars and the OK from Newtown. Everything fell into place. It just seemed destined.”
MacKenzie’s fundraising efforts haven’t end just yet. He is now looking for donations of hard shell guitar cases for the 20 guitars. Anyone interested in purchasing a guitar case or donating funds towards one can contact him at 752-0997.