Salvation Army bell ringer robbed outside Gulfport Winn Dixie

December 12, 2014 in News, The Buzz

Windy DeLeon, 35, of Erie, Penn., helps her niece Kaylene DeLeon, 4, drop a donation in a Salvation Army kettle on Nov. 12 outside a Macy's department store near Erie, Pa. On Tuesday, a Salvation Army bell ringer was robbed outside a Winn Dixie in Gulfport. (Christopher Millette/The Associated Press)

Windy DeLeon, 35, of Erie, Penn., helps her niece Kaylene DeLeon, 4, drop a donation in a Salvation Army kettle on Nov. 12 outside a Macy’s department store near Erie, Pa. On Tuesday, a Salvation Army bell ringer was robbed outside a Winn Dixie in Gulfport. (Christopher Millette/The Associated Press)

GULFPORT, Mississippi (AP) — A man robbed a Salvation Army bell ringer and ran off with her kettle full of cash just as she was finishing her shift and thanking donors outside a grocery store, according to police accounts and surveillance video.

Michelle Pope said the man pushed her back and grabbed the kettle before she could react.

“Next thing I know, my kettle is running down the road. I tried to chase him down,” she said. “He was just too fast.

“He really needs to return that bucket, and he really needs to apologize,” Pope told WLOX-TV.

The Tuesday incident was caught on video outside a Winn Dixie in Gulfport.

The video shows the man coming up on the side of Pope and running away. Another camera shows him walking up, wearing a red cap, a blue jacket, jeans and black shoes.

Pope said it was her first holiday season ringing for the Salvation Army. She said she did it to make some extra cash — Salvation Army Maj. Gary Sturdivant said the organization has been hiring bell ringers at minimum wage because of a lack of volunteers.

“Ringing a bell was a way for me to make a little money to give my kids the Christmas they deserve,” Pope said.

“The saddest part is if the guy was that needy, he could have just come down to our center,” Sturdivant said.