Luthier John F. Mello, winner of an Elfen Works Award, is using his artistry to help feed the hungry. How so? He produced a CD featuring guitarists playing his guitars, and proceeds from the sales of this CD benefit local food banks.

Now, whenever he travels for trade shows, he contacts the local food bank for permission to display the CDs in their name and to direct CD sales proceeds directly to them. Then he displays the CD along with his guitars — and he asks customers to make out their checks to the local food bank directly. The beauty of this model is that people know that all of their contribution goes entirely to the food bank; Mello’s contribution comes from supplying the CDs and transferring the money.

The guitarists who participated and the stores and restaurants that agree to display and sell the CDs during the holidays are also making ripples of change. By being willing give up profitable display space or ‘real-estate’ required to display the CD, and then to collect the checks and pass them back to Mello, they are doing charitable work. On a busy Saturday night, to be willing to stop and take a check is a generous thing to do, especially considering that it doesn’t extend their clientele at all because their customers are already there. The CD sells well at the holidays as an impulse stocking-stuffer purchase — people enjoy choosing it because they know 100% of the purchase goes to the targeted organization.

One of his guitars had been on display at the Smithsonian. When the owner wanted to donate it to The Carter Center for auction, he contacted one of his fabulous guitarist friends to record a bit of music, helping show off the wonderful guitar’s attributes. It raised $70,000 for an excellent cause, and will surely bring joy to the new owner for years to come [read more].

John F. Mello hasn’t single-handedly solved poverty or hunger, but he is making an impact with his guitars and with every CD that he sells. We highlight his efforts here to point out that regardless of how highly specialized your skill, all it requires is a little imagination to find a way to …help one, help many, create a ripple!