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Father, son, sax team up to help the Salvation Army raise funds

By Staff | Dec 18, 2015

On Wednesdays, when you see that older gentleman in the Santa hat ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at the Publix on the corner of Cape Coral Parkway and Santa Barbara Boulevard, be sure to throw some loose change in the kettle.

And be sure to stop for a minute to listen to the younger man playing the saxophone, and throw in a little more.

Bruce Baker has been helping his 89-year-old father, Jim, raise money for the Salvation Army this holiday season by playing some holiday classics and other tunes on his brass instrument, and they’ve been attracting quite a crowd.

This is the first season they have done this, having just moved to the area from New Jersey three years ago. He said he tried to do something like this up there, but faced many obstacles.

“I reached out to them, but it was real complicated. They wanted you to take classes and other things,” Bruce said. “I looked in the paper and saw people doing it down here, I called them up and they asked ‘When do you want to do it?’ They made it so simple.”

Bruce started playing sax when he was a kid and continued through school and for local bands as a young adult.

“Family life comes along and gets in the way. I’m retired now, I have some time to do things like that,” Bruce said. “I hadn’t played in several years, so dusted them off and lubricated my fingers.”

When Bruce volunteered his services to the Salvation Army to play sax, Jim approached them and asked if they needed a bell ringer to accompany him.

“When I found out he volunteered, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to watch the kettle and ring the bell,” Jim said. “I told him that I wanted to volunteer, too.”

So, they started playing at Publix, which has been very accommodating. It doesn’t hurt that they have drawn a small following, which has not only improved donations to the Salvation Army, but also can’t be hurting sales at the store.

“We don’t look at all the donations that go into the kettle, but it looks like the people of Cape Coral are quite generous,” Bruce said. “I think the saxophone inclines people to donate where they would normally walk by.”

“I think the music helps. It gets them in the holiday spirit of giving. Everyone smiles and when they’re making a donation, I thank them and wish them a happy holiday,” Jim said.

Best of all, Bruce and Jim can spend more father-son time together. Dad has taken up piano and can soon start jam sessions with his son. In the meantime, Jim said he wants to do this again next year.

“We do other things together. We sail and boat together and I have a race-car simulator,” Jim said. “I have one more session next week and then we’ll think about next year.”