Couple who restores musical instruments has given away hundreds to Rochester students

Couple donates restored musical instruments to students

Last Updated Dec 16, 2019 12:58 PM EST

Rochester, New York — For Charlie and Dorothy Hale of Rochester, New York, every day is like Christmas morning. Bright, shiny woodwinds and worn out old trumpets, brown cardboard packages tied up with strings — used musical instruments are their favorite things.

The instruments show up all day without intermission, and each piece is in some form of disrepair. They started buying these broken instruments a few years ago after Dorothy took a class in instrument repair.

"I always loved to take things apart, and it's about time I learned how to put something together," she said.

Dorothy, a retired chemist, and Charlie, a retired doctor, are both now in their 80s. But they're still very active in this passion to restore instruments to their former glory and then give them away by the hundreds. 

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Charlie and Dorothy Hale CBS News

So far, the Hales have donated nearly 1,000 instruments to the Rochester School District through the Rochester Education Foundation.

"It's unbelievable for two humans to care so much about other people's children," said Alison Schmitt, the lead teacher for the Rochester arts department.

Alison said the impact has been huge. But when I tried to talk to the Hales about this, they seemed downright oblivious.

"There are ripples of effect I'd hope," Charlie said.

Sophomore William Delgado said it's more like tidal waves.

"Really music has and can create somebody, and it created me," he said.

Studies consistently show that music education helps kids do better in school, overall. If for no other reason, it makes them want to attend. Fortunately, the Hales are now starting to understand.

"If I could thank you every single day of my life, I would," Alison said.

As we go into the holidays, it's good to remember that there is no greater gift than simply telling someone just how important they really are.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com. 

If you'd like to donate a gently used instrument in need of repairs, you can send the instrument to the Rochester Education Foundation, which facilitates the Hales' donations. Their address is: 250 Mill Street, Rochester, NY 14614.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.