MOUNT VERNON — An individual who apparently doesn’t understand what the Christmas spirit is all about grabbed The Salvation Army’s donation kettle at Neff’s Cardinal Market on Friday and fled with the bucket of money.
Major Bob Bender of The Salvation Army reported that his father, Major Wilmer Bender, was serving as the bell ringer at the kettle at the entrance to Neff’s around noon when a man approached him and struck up a conversation. The man reportedly asked a few questions about the Christmas donations and in a quick motion grabbed the kettle off its hook and fled. Wilmer Bender pursued the subject on foot, as did a Pepsi-Cola Co. driver who witnessed the theft.
The subject had not been caught as of late Friday afternoon.
“He had been there since 10 a.m. and was not sure how much money was in the kettle,” said Bob Bender. “It happens ... you just have to be vigilant.”
Major Bob Bender is urging bell ringers at all area locations to be cautious and keep an eye out for people who may be watching.
“We’re not going to quit,” said Bender. He added that measures are being taken so that the kettles will now have a lock on them when displayed at the donation stands.
Wilmer Bender was reportedly back at ringing the bell and manning his station later on Friday.
“I’m not going to let them beat me that way,” he said.
The Mount Vernon Police Deparment is investigating the theft.