A Commack teenager is hoping to bring harmony to the lives of South American youngsters in need by providing them with musical instruments.
Collin Chipetine, a junior at Commack High School, has collected more than 50 gently used instruments in recent months to benefit the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments in Cateura, Paraguay. The orchestra is comprised of children who live by a landfill and make their instruments out of materials such as soup cans and house gutters, he said.
"Music has been influential in my life, so I wanted to give these kids better lives through music," said Chipetine, 16, who plays the saxophone, clarinet and piano. He learned about the orchestra through a video on YouTube.
To spread the word, Chipetine wrote letters to every Long Island high school and handed out fliers at local board of education meetings. The largest donors have been Mineola High School and John H. Glenn High School in Elwood, which each gave 10 instruments, he said.
Chipetine now is storing 55 instruments, from violins to trumpets, in his family's basement. Plycon Transportation Group in Kings Park offered to ship them for free to the Paraguayan Embassy in Washington, D.C., he said. The embassy will need help from the local Paraguayan community to pay for the shipment to Cateura.
Chipetine is a member of several school music ensembles and the Tri-M Music Honor Society.