"[Mr. Bush] You never feel you do enough, but the Army does a lot of good all across our country and we enthusiastically support them in their charitable work -- they're really good. [Mrs. Bush] I think 86 percent of their money goes to help people. They help people all over the country and all over the world. They've done wonderful things for Katrina and Rita, not to mention the Tsunami. But they're the best, they're the most sacrificing people I know."
President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush stood outside Gallery furniture helping the Salvation Army reach a goal of $90,000 for that particular red kettle. The Bushes say they have supported the Salvation Army for many years, and Mrs. Bush regularly volunteers as a ringer.
"You know they don't ask for money. They're quiet, they just ring the bell. You can give or not. You don't feel guilty if you don't, but it's pretty nice if you do."
The Greater Houston Chapter of the Salvation Army is fundraising toward a $4 million goal. Area Commander Major Marshall Gessner says donations are little ahead of where they were at this time last year, but they still need to raise another $1.5 million. And he says there are fewer kettles out this year.
"There are some stores that will not allow us to ring bells. And the other is we have a hard time getting enough volunteers and employees to man all the kettles in the Houston area. There's probably oh I would say maybe 250-300 potential spots and we can maybe man 150. So there's some spots that you know we're just not able to get somebody there every day."
Gessner says this week and next are the busiest for kettle ringers. Gallery Furniture Owner Jim McIngvale donated $50,000 on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Bush, calling them the couple who does the most good. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.