BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A Brunswick teen who played a set of buckets like drums now has a drum set of his own, thanks to the generosity of strangers and new friends.
TJ Nelson, 13, has been playing the buckets at the corner of Norwich Street and I Street for about a month.
“He was running the streets with his little buddies and they kept getting themselves in trouble and he’d be right there with them,” TJ’s father, Tory Nelson, said. “So I had to try to come up with something to try to take his mind off of running the streets.”
Nelson, a drummer himself, introduced TJ to the buckets. While he didn’t have a drum set of his own, TJ takes drum lessons and has been playing since his early childhood.
TJ started collecting money to buy a drum set of his own. One day, children who TJ once called friends stole money from his bucket.
“It was a blessing,” Nelson said.
It was a blessing because a social media post about the theft caught the attention of Donny Foster, who decided to visit TJ.
“I said ‘TJ, I’m an old drummer from years back myself.’ And when I said that he kind of stepped back and he saluted me,” Foster said. “I thought [it] was real sweet and real cute.”
The simple gesture left an impression on Foster. When he returned to the corner a second time, he brought a set of drumsticks to replace the sticks and metal TJ had been using.
“He looked at his mother and said ‘Mom, look, real drum sticks!’ And he held them up and he just, like, hugged them to his chest,” Foster said.
But he didn’t stop here.
Foster went to local music shop, City Music, and shared TJ’s story with owner Gary Share.
“I said, well let me make a few phone calls and see what we can come up with,” Share said.
He contacted a friend who refurbishes drum sets. That, in combination with donations, made TJ’s dreams come true.
“So wonderful to see him and see that big smile on his face,” Share said. “I don’t think he’ll stop playing all day out here!”
Foster said when TJ someday makes it big, he’ll be cheering him on from the crowd.
"[I'll say] TJ remember us? We came down to watch you play when you were playing on the buckets,” Foster said. “We’re real proud of you, and keep going, and the sky is the limit.”