Thief makes off with Salvation Army kettle
By bob okon firstname.lastname@example.org December 18, 2012 1:50PM
A view of a Salvation Army kettle at the K-Mart Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, at 1801 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet. A thief made off with the kettle and stand after a Salvation Army bell ringer went for a brief bathroom break inside the store on Dec. 15. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
RED KETTLE SPECIAL
Who: Salvation Army
What: Donors match up to $1,200 in red kettle donations
Where: Kmart, 1801 W. Jefferson St., Joliet
Why: Response to loss of more than $300 from kettle theft last weekend
Updated: January 20, 2013 6:21AM
JOLIET — The Salvation Army hopes to make up for the loss of more than $300 from a brazen kettle theft when they return to the scene of the crime for special fundraiser.
Kmart and two anonymous donors will match red kettle donations up to $1,200 on Saturday at the Joliet store.
It’s there where a thief ran off with the kettle — stand and all — this past Saturday while a bell ringer was taking a break.
The kettle is not easily taken since it’s locked to the stand, said Lt. Daniel Simmons at the Salvation Army Joliet Corps. And, the stand is not easy to take either, he said, since it’s connected to a 60-pound base.
Even so, it happens as the greed of taking sometimes interferes with the holiday spirit of giving.
“It generally happens every year at different locations,” Simmons said. “People pick up the whole thing, throw it in a van, or they run off with it as happened with us.”
The theft outside the entrance to the Kmart, 1801 W. Jefferson St., was captured on a store surveillance camera, and Joliet police are on the case.
Collins said he was told that the thief stood around the kettle for awhile acting like he belonged there until he saw an opportunity to grab it and run. One witness followed him as the man ran to the rear of the store and managed to cut the kettle from the stand before taking off.
Kmart and two anonymous donors hope to more than make up for the Salvation’s Army loss with the special donation event that will be held Saturday.
“It’s terrible that something like that would happen here,” said Store Manager Craig Hutchens. “We thought we’d come back and try to help out a bit.”
Kmart will match up to $100 in donations, while the anonymous donors will match the rest up to $1,200. While some retailers have denied Salvation Army access in recent years for the annual Red Kettle Campaign, the bell ringers have been regulars outside of Kmart stores.
“It’s like part of Christmas,” Hutchens said.
It will be even more like Christmas Saturday. Collins said he and a friend plan to perform instrumental Christmas carols outside the store, and he’s hoping a few more musicians might join them.
Salvation Army Joliet Corps wants to raise $250,000 with its Red Kettle Campaign this season. Collins said donations have been lagging a little from the goal, but he has confidence the target will be reached.
“I know the community is going to rally behind us,” Collins said. “They’ve been absolutely great.”
In November, donors provided enough toys for the Salvation Army to distribute to more than 800 families this Christmas.
Bell ringers will remain at the red kettles on streets and outside stores until Dec. 24. But the campaign continues until Jan. 31.
Donors can call 1-800-825-2769 or donate online at www.salarmychicago.org. For the first time, donations can also be made by texting. To make a $10 donation text SHIELD to the number 41444.
Individuals or companies who want to make matching pledges can call 773-205-3252 or email email@example.com.