Bell-ringer shocked, but undeterred, by kettle theft

Some people are givers, and some are takers.

Leroy Fuller is a giver.

So he was saddened and confused when a couple took his Salvation Army kettle with about $200 in it.

“It made me feel upset,” he said. “I think they feel bad about what they did. They’ve got to feel bad, unless they have no heart.”

Fuller, a Salvation Army volunteer for over 15 years, was sitting outside the Smith’s on Cheyenne Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard Wednesday afternoon when a male and female who had been loitering around the store stole his donation kettle.

“It was a two-person job,” Fuller said. “They took the whole bucket.”

Fuller, 59, is blind in one eye but heard the chain of the kettle rattle and the clip unhook. He tried to stop the man from grabbing the kettle, but the thief slapped his hand away. Fuller, who uses a walker to get around, couldn’t pursue the couple.

Volunteering for Salvation Army is something that Fuller enjoys doing. He got involved when he answered an ad for donation collectors years ago. The retired air conditioner repairman enjoys interacting with the public and finds the Salvation Army to be a good organization to support.

“I like the work they do,” he said. “I like when they make kids have a nice Christmas.” His Christmas will be spent with his niece and her family.

Not all the news on Wednesday was bad. Smith’s donated $1,000 to the Salvation Army after the theft and a local radio station had a phone-athon for the Salvation Army Friday morning, according to Salvation Army spokeswoman Leslee Rogers said.

“We’ve had a great response from the community,” Rogers said.

But the theft itself was a shock to Fuller.

“Why would they steal something from Salvation Army,” he said. “Salvation Army helps many people. If they needed help, they could’ve gotten it. Salvation Army don’t turn nobody away.”

It was also a shock for the Salvation Army which says donations are down about 25 percent from last year.

“We’ve never had this happen before,” Rogers said.

While the theft was upsetting, it did not deter Fuller from getting back out to collect donations Friday. He was back in position the next day, this time with a padlock securing his donation bucket.

When it is cold and windy will move his chair inside the doors, and greet people with a big smile.

“I like people,” he said. “I don’t like the kind who steal though.”

Contact reporter Rochel Leah Goldblatt at rgoldblatt@reviewjournal.com or 383-0381.


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