WHITEHOUSE - David and Bobbie Persinger have a passion for people and a devotion to volunteer work.
As Persinger put it, he and his wife are “just country folks trying to help.”
The couple has been involved with various causes, whether they are donating blood product or working on The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. And they received The Salvation Army 2013 Angels of Hope Award.
“Bobbie and David are the epitome of the perfect volunteer,” said Cindy Bell, director of development with The Salvation Army in Tyler. “They have been ringing the bell for The Salvation Army for several years and last year took on the task of coordinating other volunteers for the Brookshire’s store in Whitehouse and setting up a new kettle site in Troup. We saw the kettle totals in Whitehouse increase by (more than) 30 percent. This year, they are attempting to fill as many spots as they can with volunteers … And are securing sponsors for those who cannot ring. They have pledged to ring the bell themselves anywhere that there may be a gap.”
“The Salvation Army is truly indebted to this awesome couple,” she added.
Persinger said he and his wife are appreciative of the honor but humbled at the same time.
Persinger, 60, grew up in Troup, and attended Tyler Junior College, where he received a degree in petroleum technology. He worked in oil field, but is now retired. Mrs. Persinger, 59, is a former Whitehouse High School teacher, and also is retired.
Persinger is a longtime blood donor, and started donating blood when he was 18 years old. Since then, he’s donated more than 60 gallons of blood product.
He said he started by giving whole blood, but now gives platelets about every two weeks.
“Giving blood has never bothered me ... and there’s a need for a good blood supply,” Persinger said.
“With tragedy … people come out of the wall to give blood, but then you don’t see them until the next tragedy, so, we need a steady supply of good blood,” he added.
Mrs. Persinger said she has been giving blood product for a long time, although not as regularly as her husband. As of Wednesday, she had given eight gallons.
Mrs. Persinger said she taught health science and was in the medical field, so being a blood donor was a natural thing for her.
“My students always ran (a) blood drive at the high school and donated blood,” she said, adding that the goal is to get children to become lifetime donors.
As far as The Salvation Army, this year's kettle drive in Troup has been extended to nine days, Persinger said, and he hopes to make it two weeks next year.
He said not everyone is able to write a large check to The Salvation Army, but people can volunteer their time to the kettle drive.
“Texans are benevolent enough that they’re going to put something in there (the kettle). They’re going to contribute to the drive, and it’s heartwarming when you hear, especially older people, come up and they say ‘When I was a kid, if it hadn’t been for the Salvation Army, we wouldn’t have had a Christmas,’” he said.
And “kids love putting money in that kettle ... which is to me a good lesson for kids to learn while they are young — that you give back,” he said.
Mrs. Persinger said she and her husband enjoy working with The Salvation Army because it gives people a hand up instead of just giving a hand out.
In addition to The Salvation Army and blood donation, the couple does special events with Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics. On Wednesday, Mrs. Persinger stayed busy preparing goodies for a hospital bake sale.
Persinger said his wife also has made various trips to China to teach Chinese English teachers, and he and his wife do puzzles, which are framed and donated to fundraisers.
Persinger also is involved with the Troup Rotary Club, and the couple contributes to Troup Cares, an effort to help community members in need.
When they are not volunteering, Persinger and his wife enjoy traveling.
In fact, they have a bucket list, and a trip to Australia is on it.
In the end, Mrs. Persinger said her husband has a “heart of gold.”
“David cares about people. God has been good to us (and) has been good to him, (and) we want to share that wealth with others ...” she said. “We’re extremely wealthy people. We just don’t have any money.”