BEECH GROVE, Ind. – David Pogue is a Salvation Army bell ringer. But he doesn’t need a bell to get attention: he’s got his saxophone.
“I’m just trying to collect money for the kids and families who need money during Christmas,” Pogue said as he stood in his regular spot outside the Wal Mart in Beech Grove.
Pogue learned to play the saxophone 20 years ago as a freshman at Washington Hills High School in Cincinnati. He carried that passion with him to his collegiate studies at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio and then to each club he plays in Indianapolis and Chicago.
When he moved to the Indianapolis area 10 years ago, the Salvation Army gave him the opportunity to play his instrument in lieu of ringing the charity’s signature bell. He said he loves bringing smiles to shoppers’ faces and spreading Christmas cheer throughout the holidays.
Pogue says he brings in a few hundred dollars a day from his location. Salvation Army Indiana Division Secretary Major Beth Petrie said Pogue, and others like him, are major assets to the organization.
“They bring interest and enthusiasm and they bring attention to the kettle,” Petrie said. “They generally bring in more than someone who is just ringing the bell.”
The Salvation Army is running their famous kettle campaign through Christmas Eve. But even after the bell ringers leave, they’ll still be adding to their Christmas campaign through Jan. 31.
The charity is looking to raise $3.5 million in Indianapolis this Christmas. As of last week, officials said, the organization is behind pace to reach that goal.
That money primarily goes towards year-round assistance to families and other people in need. The Salvation Army also uses its funds to give out toys, clothes, and shoes to 4,000 local kids.
Petrie, who also works as a bell ringer in Indianapolis, said collecting donations is one of the best parts of her job.
“I love interacting with the public,” Petrie said. “I love when kids come up and a family comes up and they’re teaching their kids to be generous. I love hearing the stories of people who come up and say ‘I’m so glad I can give now because I used to be a recipient and now I’m in a place where I can give.’ I love that.”
Pogue agrees and said he wants to continue playing his saxophone for the Salvation Army as long as he can.
“I like playing for them. Even if I did have another gig, I would at least like to come here and play sometime for Christmas,” Pogue said. “It makes people happy. It makes me happy.”