Grand pianos will help jazz students, campers

March 17 will be a grand day for Island Girls Treasure Chest thrift store in Freeland.

Thanks to Start Me Up, a nonprofit founded by Lynn Bangston, the store has recently received a facelift, as well as an 1893 Victorian Decker Brothers grand piano for folks to play by appointment.

The store will have its grand re-opening on March 17.

As the story goes, local residents Jim and Betty Lightner donated their Yamaha G-2 grand piano to Start Me Up hoping that the heirloom would be played rather than sit unused as it was in their home.

“It belonged to Jim’s grandfather, Edwin Mitchell, and it had been sitting idle for quite a long time,” Betty Lightner said.

Start Me Up traded the Lightners’ piano to Girard for her vintage Decker Brothers piano.

“Maureen went crazy over the Yamaha when she saw it,” Lightner added.

“I don’t think we realized how valuable and wonderful a piano it is.”

Girard’s piano now presides in a place of honor at Island Girls Treasure Chest and will be available for students to play on Saturdays and holidays, while folks shop in the store.

Girard and the Lightners hope to start a scholarship program for students interested in learning how to play.

The Lightners couldn’t be more pleased with the turn of events.

“We started a chain reaction of pianos,” Betty Lightner said.

“We’re so happy that it’ll make a difference in kids’ lives.”

Tonight at Girards’ 88 Keys Piano Studio in Langley, the Lightners’ donated Yamaha piano will make its debut performance when two time Grammy nominated pianist and composer David Lanz performs a house concert there.

“David Lanz is one of the most popular Northwest pianists,” Girard said.

Reservations for the Lanz concert cost $35 and can be made by calling 221-0362 or at www.maureengirard.com.

As for the Island Girls Treasure Chest, those at the Start Me Up organization are also hoping to make a difference in children’s lives.

The store will support the Island Girls Day Camp (originally begun by Soroptimist International of South Whidbey in 2006), which provides a free summer day camp to girls ages 11 to 14.

To reserve time to play the Decker Brothers grand piano at the store, call Bangston at 360-969-1444.

Island Girls Treasure Chest is located at 1664 Main St. in Freeland.