by Alison Stewart, NBC contributor
The impact of Operation Happy Note is a big as the concept is simple: to provide musical instruments to servicemen and women serving overseas.
It wasn't some big music distributor or record company that came up with the idea. It was two senior citizen music store owners in Fergus Falls, Minnesota- 25 miles from the North Dakota border.
Steve and Barb Baker raise funds. They cajole their distributors into giving them a good price on slightly blemished instruments.They convince their friends to drop by to help pack up the instruments.
The store's backroom is full of boxes of donated instruments. Steve proudly showed me some donated handmade Native American flutes, a box of harmonicas, a banjo he said "just barks!" I think that is a good thing.
At this point the bathroom has even been converted into a temporary warehouse. Barbara calls it "organized chaos. But after watching this lady work, it was clear to me she is a mastermind. She has systems in place. She understands how to fill out all the custom forms. She answers every email.
Her husband spends time with each package trying to figure out if the person needs strings or one of his homemade guitar lesson plans. He is a music teacher too.
They were very excited to show me a book of photos, letters and thank you emails they call "The Book of Heroes."
When they leaf through it, they each tell you stories about the people in the pictures. Take for example the muscle bound African American who smiled so wide when he got his violin his friends told him he looked drunk in the picture. Or a young man who taught some Iraqis how to play a mandolin.
The Bakers talk about each servicemen as if they are old friends. Some have kept contact. Some have gone missing.
The Bakers generosity has been infectious. While were interviewing the Bakers, two women, total strangers, walked into the store and gave the Bakers a check for $375.00. The women had read about Operation Happy note so they held a concert fundraiser and drove two hours to deliver the check.
So let's see if our story tonight inspires anyone else to do a little good in the world.