CHICAGO — Tucked away in an obscure South Side warehouse is a treasure trove of piano gold.
The 65-or-so pianos are the current inventory of Keys 4/4 Kids, a nonprofit that refurbishes donated pianos, sells them and uses the proceeds to help introduce Chicago kids to art and music.
"It connects children with painters and musicians," said Michael Hwang, the content director for the Keys 4/4 Kids Chicago office, 1965 W. Pershing Road on the McKinley Park/Back of the Yards border.
Keys 4/4 Kids was created in 2000 in Minnesota and expanded to Chicago and Kansas City in 2011. Since coming to this city, the organization has averaged about 20 piano sales per month, Hwang said.
Hwang, a University of Chicago graduate who majored in music, said the local Keys 4/4 Kids branch receives about 15 donation requests a week. After the pianos are refurbished, most are sold at five prices — from $199 to $1,500-plus. Other pianos are dismantled and repurposed into items like key holders, while some pianos are simply donated as part of Keys 4/4 Kids' Piano Placements program. That venture recently donated a refurbished piano to Clayton Residential Home in Lincoln Park.
Keys 4/4 Kids also uses the profits to fund the Pianos on Parade program, which allows Chicago artists to paint designs on pianos and then place them in major city parks. The summer program will be included in six Chicago Park District parks this year, said Hwang, of Hyde Park.
"I think people in the city love our programs and appreciate them," Hwang said.
For information on donating a piano or scheduling an appointment to view pianos at the warehouse (below), click here.
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