Cameron Jace - Guitar bell-ringer

Cameron Jace Barth, 19, of Boise plays a guitar while seeking donations for the Salvation Army. He said it’s one of the best jobs he’s ever had.

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What makes someone decide to donate to a charity? Sometimes all it takes is a good song. That’s what 19-year-old Cameron Jace Barth was banking on when, through an employment agency, he landed a job as a Salvation Army bell-ringer this Christmas season.

But Barth put a twist on the tradition: he traded the bell for a guitar. He asked his employers, “‘Can I play my guitar instead of ringing the bell?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, of course, as long as you play Christmas songs and happy songs.’”

That’s what he did for the month leading up to Christmas, at Boise Towne Square mall, outside a Hobby Lobby and in front of grocery stores. He strummed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” along with holiday standards “That’s Christmas to Me,” “White Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“I’m not the best singer in the world, I’m not the best guitarist, but I can play a song and someone can sing with me and they’ll be in a better mood,” he said. “Music always puts people in a better mood, so that’s what I’m here to do: spread good vibes.”

Ryan Suppe is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley business reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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