The joyous sound of music accompanying the strum of guitar strings will soon be heard echoing from four orphanages in Ukraine thanks to the generosity of the Jimmy Jack Foundation.

Inside of a home in Branson the members of the foundation gathered together on the afternoon of Thursday, May 4, to donate four acoustic guitars to Wings of the Wind Evangelistic Ministries Reverend and Missionary Stu Martin, who will be taking them with him on his upcoming mission trip to Ukraine next month. 

Jimmy Jack Foundation CEO and Founder Jimmy Jack Whitaker said when his longtime friend Martin called him up and asked if the foundation would be able to donate guitars to the ministry for them to take to Ukraine, his response was an immediate yes.

“He called me and he said, ‘Hey Jim. I’ve got room for four guitars…We’re taking medicine and food to these kids. They’ve lost their parents, they’ve lost brothers, sisters and everything in the war. They’re beat up and some of them come in really bad shape.’ He said, ‘Some of them play guitar, some of them are learning, but they’re real quick.’ He said, ‘I’d like to take a guitar, we’ve got four orphanages and I’d like to take a guitar for each orphanage,’” Whitaker said. “So me, I start rattling around and I pull the best guitars I can find. We’re givers…It’s all about giving to these kids.”

Headquartered in Snyder, Oklahoma, the Jimmy Jack Foundation collects both new and used instruments from donors looking to pass the gift of music to the next generation. Once instruments are acquired, the foundation seeks out the student, band or school who will best benefit from such a donation.

As part of the donation presentation, Whitaker showed each of the guitars to Martin and the other attendees. He reiterated, with an estimated combined total value of $3,000, these guitars were four of the best the foundation had recently been given. 

“What an honor…I’m just a conduit. That’s all we all are,” Whitaker said. “It’s so cool to see it at work and ya’ll are part of it…Remember this. We just represent the people that’s donated them. I don’t even know who donated the guitars (to the foundation)…We’re just all givers and it’s not about anything except that we love the Lord.”

Whitaker also thanked Steve Anthony with State Line Music in Branson, who donated new straps, strings, picks and tuners for each of the guitars when he learned where they were headed. Additionally, when the orphanages open each guitar case, Whitaker shared they’re going to be greeted by letters from American children.

“We’ve got letters from kids across the country. That’s from Bismarck, North Dakota. We got four of them. One from each of our kids there. Our little drummer girl that was artist of the year, she’s one of these. The girl that we gave the mandolin to out of Montana, she sent us one for each box,” Whitaker said. “Eminence sent cards from their school. Four cards signed by all the kids saying, ‘God Bless You. We’re praying for you.’ That’s from right here in Missouri. Then we’ve got out of California right now. The Balyeat family, they sent us cards with their pictures on it with all the kids and their names and on the back they said if they want to write them, they’ll answer their letters.”

Alongside the four guitars, Martin said they will be transporting 10 to 12 large army-style duffle bags filled with supplies from their home base in Tennessee to Ukraine. 

“We’re taking clothes such as women’s fleece loungers and boys fleece loungers. We’re taking those, because they have to wear those everyday,” Martin said. “We’re taking toiletries, we’re taking toothbrushes, toothpaste and we’re taking individually wrapped hard candy.”

Martin and his missionary team are leaving for Ukraine on Tuesday, June 6 and will remain there until Saturday, June 17. In that time, they will visit five orphanages, two refuge centers and around a dozen homes housing refuge kids.  

As a 20-year missionary, often working with orphaned children in Russia, Martin’s time overseas was suddenly brought to a halt in 2021 when President of Russia Vladimir Putin put a stop to their regular mission trips. When Russia’s war with Ukraine began in early 2022, Martin said God reopened the door for him to return overseas. 

After being told by the Lord his new mission was to bring assistance to the orphaned children of Ukraine, Martin and a group of fellow missionaries made their way to the war torn country in June 2022. Since their initial mission last summer, Martin and his team have made several trips back to the area to assist the children in the orphanages. In the last year, Wings of the Wind Evangelistic Ministries have successfully raised enough money to purchase and take winter hoodies, heavy blankets, beds, and other supplies to the Ukrainian children.  

During his two-decades of missionary service in Russia, Martin noticed how children in that part of the world truly loved playing musical instruments. Though there are still many essential items the Ukrainian children are in need of, Martin shared for this upcoming trip he wanted to supply them with a different kind of necessity: joy. 

“In these orphanages they didn’t have any instruments, because they came with nothing and there was nothing there for them when they got there. That’s the reason I approached Jimmy and said, ‘Can you help us? Let me have four guitars. I know it’s not much, but it’s four guitars to get them started,’” Martin said. “How many remember seeing America’s Got Talent with the autistic boy that won it? There’s a lot of them over there like that. They might not be able to communicate well, they might not be able to walk well, but put an instrument in their hands and it turns them completely around and they’re musical geniuses.”

With the four guitars packed away in their cases, Whitaker asked attending Country Gospel Ministries Inc. President & Founder Billy Hale to say a prayer over the musical pieces for safe passage to the Ukraine and to bless the children who come by these instruments. Before bringing the presentation to a close, Whitaker left everyone with a final thought.

“There’s a saying, and I’ve even heard it preached, I’d rather be annotated than talented. This is more fun than playing. That is more fun than playing, knowing whoever gets those guitars is going to be blessed beyond measure,” Whitaker said. “It doesn’t get any better than helping somebody else reach their dreams…because music is our release. I can’t imagine not loving music.”

In the remaining three weeks before their trip, Martin said they are still working to raise approximately $2800, which will be used to pay the cost of transporting all the supplies and the guitars to Ukraine. Anyone who would like to support, make a donation or learn more about their mission trips can visit   

In addition to instrument donations, the Jimmy Jack Foundation also provides college scholarships for students and sponsors mission trips. During the holiday season the foundation hosts their annual fundraising Christmas concert in Branson, which features many area entertainers. 

At the beginning of this year, the foundation visited Trinity Christian Academy in Hollister where they donated nine instruments to help get the private school’s new band started. 

To learn more about the Jimmy Jack Foundation or to make an instrument or monetary donation visit      

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