NAMM Member Raises Funds for Afghan Evacuation
In their Sacramento, California shop, Kauer Guitar’s crafts guitars for the likes of Flogging Molly’s Dennis Casey, Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, and Eli Maiman from Walk the Moon. The NAMM Member has now committed to building guitars through the summer of 2022 for customers who aided in the evacuation of Afghan citizens from Kabul.
Kauer Guitars began as a hobby for luthier Doug Kauer in the early 2000s, and by 2007, he turned his hobby into a full-time operation. The boutique guitar builder operates on the philosophy of building guitars that the team would want to play in the shop, which for them means “great weight and balance, fantastic tone, and fantastic playability.”
Kauer and his team have been spearheading multiple fundraising drives since the pandemic shut down operations in 2020, saying, “When COVID and shelter in place happened, I thought ‘this is it,’ we had almost all our dealer orders evaporate overnight. Luckily, we had a bunch of customers come to our rescue and put guitars on order directly, knowing that we didn’t exactly know when we could return to full production.”
This pay-it-forward attitude inspired the luthier to expand his philanthropic reach, first by providing guitars to customers who donated toward organizations like the ACLU and NAACP in the months following the death of George Floyd and organizations dedicated to COVID-19 relief. Then, Kauer found another worthy cause to support as the situation in Afghanistan grew more precarious. The catalyst for his inspiration came from the unlikeliness of all places, a meme account.
Kauer said, “Oddly enough, I follow a meme account on Instagram called @Quentin.Quarintino, who started making memes during COVID and has since turned into a big fundraiser in his own right. They started a GoFundMe with one of the few civilian organizations providing direct help. We decided on our own that the best thing to do was another fundraiser drive.”
Enter the Flyaway: Emergency Afghan Rescue Mission, a GoFundMe page organized on behalf of Raven Advisory LLC out of North Carolina. The organization is a group of hand-selected individuals with more than 60 years of combined service in Special Forces, Special Mission Units, SEALs, Ground Branch, and the CIA. The operation named the “Flyaway: Emergency Afghan Rescue Mission” was to fund the emergency evacuation of over 300 people from Kabul in the wake of Taliban control of the nation’s capital. Individuals selected for evacuation as part of this specific operation were labeled “high-value targets." This included Afghan men and women who have worked as human rights lawyers, champions of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, journalists, government liaisons, artists, and interpreters, all categorized as high-risk for execution by the Taliban.
Initially, the fundraising goal was $550,000, which is the cost to fuel two airplanes to and from Kabul to a foreign country. The GoFundMe page stated that should it raise $1,100,00, the group would conduct a second flight mission to double the number evacuated, with flights continuing as long as the funding remained. Upon the close of the donation period, the organization had raised $7,275,110, $1.2 million of which will go to the Women’s Media Fund to help refugees in their resettlement efforts.
In total, Kauer Guitars and its customers, donated over $50,000 toward the effort. The guitar manufacturer offered a free Korona guitar for any customers who provided a $2,000 receipt of donation to the operation and sponsored a raffle of Kauer’s own Shoreliner guitar, details of which are on Kauer Guitars’ Instagram (@KauerGuitars). The generous and enthusiastic response led to building slots filling up nearly overnight. “It is just incredibly overwhelming that we have a fan base that is so willing to go right along with us and open their wallets. I mean, we offer a pretty good incentive to do it, but they are doing the amazing part,” says Kauer.