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A little music helps fill the Salvation Army kettle faster

SALISBURY — The weather outside was frightful.
The music, however, was delightful.
For the third year running, Cassidy Nooner along with fellow students and alumni from West Rowan High School’s marching band got together Saturday to make some music for the Salvation Army.
Outside the Old Navy store at the Innes Street Market shopping center, 25 musicians gathered to entertain passers-by as the cold rain fell.
From “Frosty the Snowman,” to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and more, the holiday favorites echoed across the parking lot.
Nooner helped get six musicians together for carols the first time in 2011, when they played outside Walmart to help attract donations to the Salvation Army’s fund drive.
“We’ve doubled in size since last year,” Nooner said during a break between songs.
The group’s one hour of playing takes a lot of practice and planning.
Nooner, a junior at West Rowan and drum major for this year’s Marching Falcons band, arranged the carols herself.
She said she starts that process in the summer, and doesn’t finish until about two months before.
“Then, we take a Sunday about mid-November, and we get together after church and practice at the school,” Nooner said.
They’re familiar tunes, but it still takes weeks of planning to get the songs prepared.
And the cold, rainy weather makes it tough. Between songs, the musicians huddled up, rubbing their hands and digging them down into pockets for warmth.
“It feels really good,” said Savannah Morgan, a junior at West Rowan. She’s been involved with the Christmas carol performance all three years.
So has fellow junior Jessica Ho, who said she enjoyed having a chance to show the band’s musical talent at this time of year.
Alex Day, who graduated in 2012 and is now a student at Western Carolina University, came back to play with Nooner and bandmates.
“It displays the arts we have here in Salisbury,” Day said, “and it’s good for the students.”
But the biggest winner of the day was the Salvation Army’s fund drive.
As the music played, shoppers responded with donations for the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign.
Some, seeing and hearing the band, pulled up near the curb to give a donation to one of the students to drop into the kettle.
“All of this is being done just by the students. They took it upon themselves, directed it themselves,” said Lieutenant Josh Morse, corps commander of the Rowan County Salvation Army.
“The best part is, it definitely puts the donors and the shoppers in a Christmas spirit,” Morse said. “It surprises me and makes me super happy every time I hear they’re coming out. They’re so selfless, giving up their time.”
In addition to playing outside of Old Navy on Saturday, Morse said, the students used their half-day off from school on Nov. 9 to play at the Salvation Army’s Kettle Kickoff event.
At Old Navy, service and training manager Lauren Shinn said it was great having the students playing outside.
“It’s community outreach, and raising money for a good cause,” Shinn said.
Looking ahead to next year, Nooner said she hopes the band can perform during the red kettle drive at least twice.
“But, it’s hard to schedule around people and school,” Nooner said.
Still, it’s a tradition she’s glad she and her fellow students can bring to the community. “I hope to do it as long as I can,” Nooner said.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.