Banding together for a good cause

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- Last minute shoppers got more than they bargained for at the Kroger on Dupont Road, Friday night. Local high school band directors came together to spread a little Christmas cheer. The group played Christmas carols to help raise money for the Salvation Army.

“I was inside I had to rush to get out here,” said Valerie Cook. “I was like, Oh! I’ve got to take a picture!”

With just a couple days to go before Christmas, people were rushing in and out of the store trying to finish last minute shopping. But shoppers said the music served a reminder to slow down and remember the reason for the season.

“I just had a big grin on my face I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

This was a first for Cook but not the band directors. They’ve spent the last six years playing Christmas tunes for a good cause. Bryan Munoz, Band Director at East Noble High School, was joined by four others, Michael Carey, also of East Noble, Doug Hassell and Phil Frazier of Carroll High School and Eli Arnold, a retired NACS bus driver and private instructor.

“I think one of the things that brings enjoyment out of this is we see everybody kind of stop,” said Munoz.

Dozens of customers stopped to snap pictures, get video, and make donations. An instrument case was placedon the floor near the entrance to collect money for the Salvation Army bell ringers who were standing outside the store. Munoz said they’ve averaged about $200 an hour in donations.

“You can always use your talents and give back,” said Munoz. “This is one way that you can always give back to your community. ”

The group usually plays a few days during the week of Christmas because it’s one of the busiest times for the grocery stores. This year the group played Wednesday through Thursday, from 6 p.m. until 7:30.

“It makes you just feel the warmth of Christmas,” said Cook.

Munoz said they’ve raised about $500 dollars in donations for the Salvation Army this year. Over the last six years he estimates they’ve raised more than $3,000.