NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With Christmas just days away, the sounds of the season are all around. One is unmistakable: The ringing of the Salvation Army bell.
For the past 127 years, the Salvation Army has been collecting to help the needy. The bell ringers are the heart and soul of the red kettle campaign. Some have played music, others have danced.
If you’ve walked by Derrick Dove, chances are he got you to smile, reports CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.
“People from around the world love seeing that sign,” said Dove. “It’s like when they see that it’s like a bee to a honeycomb.”
Do different sizes of bell make a difference?
“I believe the bell I have right here is the best one for me,” he said, showing off his favorite. “It’s got solid wood and good metal… The chiming attracts the people. And my energy does the rest. You get the right bell with the right energy, it’s a perfect match.”
Dove is one of the top collectors because he simply makes a connection.
“I don’t have to say give to the Salvation Army because my authenticity does it for me,” he said. “They automatically give. I don’t know, it’s like magnetism.
“That money isn’t going to me, but when they put that money in there, my adrenaline starts flowing,” he said. “My skin starts to tingle. Its exciting man. It really is exciting. That money’s not going to me, but I get excited every time that money goes in the bucket.”
Dove says he’s a different person once he has that bell in his hand.
“People will walk past me a couple of times and they may not give that first time,” he said. “But they come around that second and third time, they give.”
About 90 percent of the money collected goes to individuals.
The collections help maintain vital community programs throughout the year, beyond food and shelter. Dove knows personally.
“There was a time when I was down and out,” he said. “With their help, it helped me get on my feet.”
For six hours at a time Dove stands outside in the New York cold making a joyful noise. Thousands walk by and he’ll greet every one.
He’ll raise enough in one day to buy a family a bag of groceries, or give someone shelter for the night. With every donation he sends people off with a kind word.
A living example of a reason for the season, his goal is to make people’s day a little brighter.
“For me personally I love interacting with the people,” he said. “I’m not rich enough to help someone else. But if I can do this to attract people to help someone else, it’s a great feeling.”
The Salvation Army of New York has a goal of collecting $2 million dollars in donations this season, but a week before Christmas they are only halfway there.
Individuals can text “givenyc” to 41444 or head to salvationarmyny.org to make a donation to the Salvation Army.