Play it Forward at Farina Car Cruise in McCandless

Donate antique instruments during the annual Frank J. Farina Jr. Memorial Car Cruise on September 10 at North Allegheny Intermediate School and help bring music to underprivileged students in the Pittsburgh area.

The instruments donated on the car cruise, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., are part of Play-it-Forward, a Farina Foundation program that gives used instruments a second life, said Farina’s son, Frank J. Farina III.

The annual car cruise is held in conjunction with McCandless Community Day, which also takes place on September 10, but at Grubbs Road Town Hall from 4-6 p.m. There will be parking at NAI on Cumberland Road and a shuttle for those who want to attend Community Day, according to Larry Steckel, president of the car cruise.

The Farina Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity, launched the Play-it-Forward program in 2019 that refurbishes donated instruments to provide underprivileged children, music departments of health organizations, and underserved schools. , according to Farina III.

The foundation honors the legacy of the late Frank J. Farina Jr. and his belief that all children deserve the right to have equal access to music education.

Farina has served as music director for several schools in the Pittsburgh area, including 26 years at North Allegheny as music department chair and band director. A resident of McCandless, his four children have all attended NASD, his son said.

The late Farina has a list of musical accomplishments, including several college bowl appearances, a chair on the board of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, and co-founder of the now-named Pittsburgh Philharmonic. He also co-founded, chaired and performed with the Allegheny Brass Band.

He was honored in 2012 by the Town of McCandless by proclaiming the Frank J. Farina Jr. Memorial Car Cruise which is now part of the annual McCandless Community Day.

Farina III said her father was committed to providing access to music and music education for every child.

The Farina Foundation partners with The Education Partnership to store, manage and distribute the instruments they collect. They primarily use the Brighton Music Center in Pittsburgh to restore instruments that are donated.

Even if the instruments are beyond repair, Farina III said, they can often be used to provide parts.

Johnstonbaugh Music Center, which has a location in Allison Park, also helped with the renovation, he said.

About 90% of the instruments received by the foundation go to the Partnership for Education. The rest goes to other organizations such as Wesley Family Services, Children’s Hospital or the Pittsburgh Children’s Institute, he said.

At The Education Partnership, based in Pittsburgh, teachers can take what they need. Over 500 instruments have been refurbished to date.

The foundation also receives donations from Goodwill stores, Farina III said.

Occasionally, the foundation will purchase an instrument for a student if the need arises.

This is the first year that he has opened the program to public donations. Car cruise donations must be able to fit in one’s vehicle, so pianos or organs cannot be accepted there.

Farina III said donation opportunities will also be available at the Saxonburg Music Festival on September 10. The Farina Foundation is partnering with the Saxonburg Music Festival, taking place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., where they will provide musical programming, including the Allegheny Brass Band, Cello Fury, and more. The 3 Rivers Barbershop Quartet and the NA Fiddlers will also play there throughout the day, Farina III said.

The foundation will donate its “showmobile” stage to the North Allegheny School District and the Athletic Department at the September 9th pep rally.

Farina III said the foundation helped nearly 1,000 children a month. Indeed, many instruments are used daily by several students in a class.

“We reach a lot of students,” he said.

Play-it-Forward has grown since its debut in 2019.

“It took on a life of its own,” he said.

The cost of renovation can range from $50 to $600. Donors also contribute to renovation costs, but this is not necessary. He said the foundation had received grants and sponsors to keep the program going.

It is a family foundation with Barbara Farina, 83, at the helm as president.

Farina III also has two sisters and a brother. And, yes, they all played instruments in North Allegheny, he said.

As her father said, “You gotta give back to the community.”

The foundation also annually awards a Frank J. Farina Jr. Award for Musical Excellence to a North Allegheny student, including several scholarship categories.

The car cruise is expecting about 200 cars so far, according to McCandless resident and former NA Group relative Steckel. He said he was brought in to help by Elder Frank himself, and has been organizing it ever since. He said most of the people involved in the cruise are former relatives of the NA group.

Steckel said the car cruise will have a DJ, food vendor, door prizes and raffles. Cars can range from 1950s and 1960s muscle cars to other unique looks. One year the cruise had a beautifully refurbished Cadillac hearse.

“You never know what you’re going to get here,” he said.

Natalie Beneviat is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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