Bell ringer brings smiles, money to Red Kettle campaign

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Springboro Salvation Army bell ringer

For anyone who has seen — or more likely, heard — Charles Moore, the boisterous Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringer outside the Kroger on Ohio 73, this will come as a shock: He once was more Grinch than Santa Claus.

Before Moore moved to Middletown 15 years ago, he lived in Cleveland and was a constant criminal. He labeled himself “a thug” who was attracted to drugs, alcohol and petty theft.

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“I ain’t been the best guy my whole life,” the 62-year-old said as he puffed on a Kentucky’s Best cigarette outside Kroger. “It was always, ‘Charles, let’s go break into something. Charles, let’s get drunk. Let’s do this, let’s do that.’ I hung with the worst; never hung with the best.”

He caught his breath from the cold winter air, then added: “I was a follower. Now I’m a leader.”

For five years, Moore has been one of the most successful fundraisers during the local Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. He works 40 hours a week — five, eight-hour shifts that pay him $8.50 an hour, and Moore earns every penny. In his baritone voice, he greets all Kroger customers with: “Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas.”

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If he sees a distracted customer walking across the parking lot, he encourages them: “Let me see that smile.”

After this scenario was repeated, a young girl, holding her mother’s hand as a car passed, flashed Moore a smile minus her two front teeth.

“I got a smile without asking,” he proclaimed. “I’m a natural.”

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Ernie Howard, a retired police officer who worked in Middletown, Monroe and Hamilton, serves as Kettle Coordinator for the Salvation Army, overseeing 14 red kettles in the region. Moore is the ideal bell ringer because he speaks to everyone and makes eye contact, Howard said.

“He has the charisma and personality to bring people in,” said Howard, who said Moore is consistently one the top five fundraisers. “He does a fantastic job.”

As Moore said: “Nobody can outdo me.”

Two years ago, Howard was making his rounds, checking on all the bell ringers. When he pulled into the Kroger lot, there was Moore dancing with a customer. The whole time people were filling the kettle with cash.

“It has been a blessing to watch him in action,” Howard said.

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There are your typical Salvation Army bell ringers. Those who just go through the motions. Moore is more of an entertainer. He’s constantly in motion. The only thing louder than his bell, is his booming voice.

“All smiles and no frowns and have a very, very Merry Christmas,” he boasts. “Ho. Ho. Ho.”

A man stops and dumps his extra change in the kettle. Moore and the man, complete strangers, fist bump.

“If I’m not out here telling them to smile or have a Merry Christmas, I’m not doing anything,” Moore said. “That would be a boring job. If I can’t get nobody to smile, you might as well leave me alone. It’s fun to me, but I know people need it.”

On this night, it’s 25 degrees and the wind is whipping through the Kroger parking lot. Moore is wearing a winter coat, hat and gloves and his red Salvation Army vest. Every 90 minutes, he takes a 15-minute break. He slowly removes the kettle, carries it inside and leaves it at customer service.

He then heads back outside and has a cigarette or two while sitting on a wooden picnic table at the far end of the store. He doesn’t seen fazed by the weather.

“When I get home I’ll soak my feet in ice,” he said with a smile. “That will warm them up.”

Then, without warning, the conversation switches back to his Cleveland roots. Moore said he got caught up with the wrong crowd, and he paid the price.

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“I was tired of Cleveland or Cleveland was tired of me,” he said. “The judge told me he’d lock me up and throw away the key if I got into more trouble. He said, ‘You don’t need to be here. You need to leave.’ And I left.”

He ended up in Middletown and for five years, lived at Hope House, the city’s homeless shelter. He lives in a Middletown home and wants to ring the bell for at least five more years.

“I feel like I’m serving a purpose from God and myself. I’m doing God’s work,” he said. “But in the past, I wouldn’t do nobody’s work. If I don’t open my mouth and say, ‘Merry Christmas. Happy New Year,’ I go crazy. I can’t just sit here and ring that bell, and not say anything to people. I want people to come to me and enjoy what I do.”

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One in custody after OSP pursuit on I-75 in Miami County

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 3:34 AM

A pursuit that occurred on northbound I-75 in Miami County ended with one suspect in police custody, officials say. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Police investigate reported robbery at Piqua Kroger

The pursuit started at the 67 milemarker and ended at the 73 milemarker early Friday morning, per initial reports.

The pursuit did not end in a crash and no injuries were reported, per officials.

Police also reportedly had someone at gunpoint on a ramp near where the pursuit ended.

We’re working to learn if a passenger reportedly fled, as officials were reportedly looking for an individual in the area where the pursuit ended. 

We’ll continue to update this story with more details. 

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Police investigate reported robbery at Kroger in Piqua

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 1:34 AM

Piqua police are investigating a robbery that occurred at the Kroger on Covington Avenue late Thursday night.

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According to officials, an individual dressed in all black entered the store around 11 p.m., demanded money from a cashier, and left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The robber did not display any weapons during the incident and no one was harmed. 

Police are unsure if the person left on foot or in a vehicle.

The incident remains under investigation at this time. 

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Major Wright-Patt gate will temporarily close today

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 10:00 AM
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 2:14 AM

Major Wright-Patt gate will temporarily close

A major gateway will close at Wright-Patterson today for maintenance, impacting the travel of thousands of commuters.

Gate 19B off National Road will be closed from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., according to base spokesman Daryl Mayer.

More than 5,700 inbound drivers travel through the entrance and nearly 6,300 drive off base through the gate every work day.

Crews will work on “routine maintenance” at the gateway, Mayer said.

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“Since that (gate) is open 24/7 normally, they never have a chance to work on it,” he said.

Motorists may use Gates 1B off Springfield Street and Gate 22B off Interstate 675 as alternatives, according to Wright-Patterson.

Gate 19B had a major makeover last year with $1.3 million in upgrades that added overhead canopies, more guard booths and a barrier system, Wright-Patterson has said.

RELATED: Security concerns prompt Wright-Patt to close major gateway

The base closed Gate 26A off Ohio 235 because of security concerns this month. The gate, which had more than 5,000 vehicles a day, remains closed.

A new $10.5 million replacement gate, combining the current Gate 26A and the commercial truck entrance at Gate 16A off Ohio 444, is due to open late next year.

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Man jailed on suspicion of murder indicted on more charges

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 2:06 AM

A man already jailed on suspicion of murder in a Dayton homicide that occurred in January, was indicted Thursday on more charges.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Arrest made in Dayton man’s death over the weekend 

Kalvin K. Jones, 23, was indicted for aggravated possession of drugs and possession of cocaine, after a April 2017 case against him was reopened, according to online court documents.

Jones was already being held in Montgomery County Jail on a count of murder after he was accused in the death of Michael Cook, 21, found dead in an alley on Brooklyn Avenue.

He is being held on a $1 million bond on the murder charge, with a hearing set for June 22 in that case, court documents show.

Jones is scheduled to be arraigned on the drug charges Tuesday.

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