PARKERSBURG - Whether you call him the "Singing Bell Ringer" or "Singing Santa Claus," Don Beha attracts a lot of attention to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Beha has been known for his singing for a number of years.
"I've been doing this off and on for more than 30 years," Beha said. "With this beard a lot of people call me Santa Claus. All kinds of people come up to me and say things like 'You put me in the Christmas spirit' or 'You've change my mood' or 'You've made my day.'"
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Don Beha, know as the “Singing Bell Ringer” or “Singing Santa Claus,” was ringing a bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign in front of the Foodland in the Gihon Village in south Parkersburg on Saturday.
Beha said sometimes people will come back later in the day or the next day with their children or other friends to see him. He said that usually translates into more donations to the campaign.
"They come to see Santa Claus and put something in the kettle," he said. "Just an hour ago someone said to me they had never seen a singing Santa Claus and a dozen have asked if I'm the singing Santa they've heard about for the past two years."
Beha, a Marietta native, said what he sings at the kettle is a mix of sacred and secular music. He sings mostly for his church and had no voice training.
- Don Beha attracts a lot of attention to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign in the Mid-Ohio Valley through singing while he is stationed at a Red Kettle.
Beha has volunteered for the campaign and singing while doing it off and on for more than 30 years.
After hearing him sing, Beha said people tell him he helped put them in the Christmas spirit.
He gets a few negative comments, but they are outnumbered by the positive comments.
"No singing training, it's all God-given talent," he said. "It's natural talent and I sing at the Salvation Army Church and other churches."
At the kettle Beha said he gets requests for songs that may not be a part of this routine. He said his routine includes parts of "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "White Christmas," among others.
When he is not ringing bells for the Salvation Army, Beha works as a custodian with Winans Services at United Bank. Beha said the rest of his time is spent singing or volunteering through the Salvation Army.
"I'm helping with collecting things for other and giving them out," he said. "It's mostly food and clothing for families."
While most of those who come by stop and listen to Beha, some ignore him or offer a negative comment. Beha said he does not allow the negative comments to bother him.
"I get two to three of those a day whether it's here or at the mall or another store," he said. "It doesn't bother me, most people seem to like it."
A recent shopper at the Gihon Village said she had never heard Beha before and said his singing was a good thing to hear.
"I think it's kind of neat," said Marsha Walker, of Parkersburg. "We need more people around here like him."
Tanya Powell, of Parkersburg, said he makes a difference.
"He's really a very nice man,' she said. "We were in here the other day and he just makes a big difference - he puts the Christmas spirit in what he's doing."
Powell said more people pay attention to Beha because of his singing and that helps the Salvation Army.
"Today was the first time I've heard him, when I met him earlier he was not singing since he was in the store," she said. "He has a beautiful voice, he really does. He's the first one I've every heard of singing."
Autumn Munday, of Parkersburg, said she agreed with Powell about Beha's voice.
"He's very good," she said.