Over the past three years, Aiken County residents have donated more than 205 musical instruments to Aiken County schools through the Aiken Performing Arts Group.

APAG is formally beginning its fourth season of its Instruments in the Attic program, asking people to contribute instruments they no longer use, said Bob Kelley, program coordinator.

“I’m amazed there are always instruments out there to be donated,” Kelley said. “It’s a very fruitful program for the schools. They look forward to us providing that support.”

Those with surplus string and brass instruments can take them to any of Security Federal Bank branches, which acts as a depository until they can be picked up by APAG volunteers.

The organization has received seven pianos that have been donated to schools as well. People who have one to give away or would like more general information may call Kelley at 643-0800. Any donated piano will be checked out by a professional tuner.

If they are suitable for donation, Henry Krippner of the Habitat for Humanity Restore will provide a van so that APAG volunteers can pick them up, Kelley said.

Musicians who check out the worthiness of other instruments include Lauren Meccia, Robert Abernathy, Alex Henderson and Scott Ferguson.

APAG applied for and recently received an $8,800 grant from Bi-Lo Charities to purchase such instruments as cellos and French horns, which are seldom available for donation.

The Women of Woodside also has supported the project from the beginning.

Kelley delights in some of the stories behind the donations. One Aiken County couple brought in an almost-new Tama drum set. Their son had purchased it and had stored it with the couple while he is located overseas.

Then he decided to get an electronic set and told his folks to find a new home for the other drum set, which eventually went to the Midland Valley Band program this summer.

“We were the next school in line, and this just came out of the blue,” said David Hastings, Midland Valley band director. “That’s just phenomenal, and we’ll put it into use after marching season. Vanessa Cox, our music teacher, got a piano, too.”

Kelley said the Instruments in the Attic program could not operate nearly as efficiently without the help of Rose Puckett, the staff assistant to Aiken County Schools Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt. Puckett keeps the list of instrument needs that are submitted periodically by the school district’s music programs.

“I feel like Santa all year,” she said. “The schools really appreciate the caliber of instruments that have been repaired. We send out a wish list at the beginning of the year, and most of the schools reply back promptly. They get really excited when they get the instruments.”