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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Salvation Army wants to make sure those looking to give this holiday season are not being ripped off because of a recent alarming trend.
Randall Thomas, with the Salvation Army, says three of their trademark red kettles have been stolen from bell ringers within the past few weeks.”The Salvation Army started experiencing a rash of theft of our red kettles at two Acme markets (in Northeast Philadelphia). One was on the 6600 block of Roosevelt Boulevard. The other was 8200 block of Roosevelt,” Thomas explained.
Eyewitness News was first to speak to the volunteer at the 6600 block location when a man wearing a hoodie ran off with the red bucket.
“He seemed as though he was going to drop money in the bucket and then he stole it,” said the volunteer who goes by Ora. “I didn’t let it stop me. I continue on because it’s a good cause for the children.”
It’s a good organization for adults too. Ora shared that she once leaned on the Salvation Army for help. Now that she’s a full-time home health aid she decided to spend one of her off days, giving back.
“That’s an occurrence that happens frequently,” said Thomas. “People who were helped want to come back to the organization to help out.READ MORE: Colin Powell's Death From COVID-19 Highlights Risks Millions Of Americans Still Face
Thomas is hoping police can help by finding the suspects. “From the descriptions we have, we think it’s a different person,” said Thomas.
Thomas says those who took the kettles may be using them to make a profit of their own using tactics their volunteers do not use.
“The Salvation Army won’t take that kettle off of that stand and walk out on the street corner and come up to your car window or go door-to-door in the neighborhood,” he said.
So, the Salvation Army is warning people to only give to the Salvation Army under certain circumstances.
“It should be in a store front with an unidentifiable Salvation Army bell ringer, standing next to a red kettle hanging on a tripod with a Salvation Army sign on top,” Thomas said.
Thomas says those stealing the kettles are likely to have financial trouble. But he says they are taking away from others also having a tough time.
As for Ora, she says she will be back next year to volunteer. “Lord willing, I surely will,” she said.MORE NEWS: Man Killed, 16-Year-Old Student Shot In Head Near Lincoln High School, Philadelphia Police Say