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Children at Mark West Elementary unwittingly saved 15 small violins from the fires that consumed nearly 400 instruments at the Luther Burbank Center. The instruments were in the hands of music students who had borrowed them for the school year from LBC’s lending library.

“There are students who would not be able to participate without the ability to borrow instruments,” said Kara Kaufman, a music teacher in the Mark West Springs Union School District. “The Luther Burbank Center definitely makes up for that.”

Ray Gargano, the center’s director of education and community engagement, said once word spread about the destroyed instruments, North Bay residents started showing up with replacements in hand.

So far, about 100 instruments have been donated, some from families who once borrowed a guitar or flute or saxophone from the Music for Schools program. Others came from the Gibson Foundation, in partnership with Creative Sonoma.

The Santa Rosa Symphony reached out to provide instruments, and Sonoma State University music students performed and hosted an appeal at the Santa Rosa Plaza, gathering 10 instruments and about $2,000.

Everything helps, Gargano said. The lost instruments were valued at about $250,000.

The program is just one way the center serves about 40,000 children each year from Sonoma, Lake, Marin, Mendocino and Solano counties.

LBC’s Education Through the Arts programming supplies hands-on learning experiences for students; professional development for teachers; welcomes classrooms to live stage productions; schedules teaching artists in local classrooms; hosts a quarterly Student Art Gallery at the LBC; and provides a reading initiative, From Page to Stage.

The Evert Person Bus Fund helps cover transportation costs for schools (more than 450 classrooms to date) and the Evert Person ArtReach offers admission to stage performances for free or at reduced fees for qualifying students.

The educational resources help students achieve success in the classroom and beyond, Gargano said.

“The skills they learn from all the arts are just incredible,” he said. “They do better in school and become better community members.”

The center is reaching out to educators, hosting a Trauma Through the Arts training program next month in conjunction with Creative Sonoma. The free training features two master teachers from Teaching Artists Guild, a national organization based in the Bay Area.

Educators who attend will discover resources to develop curriculums and lesson plans to help trauma-affected students through visual and performing arts.

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