COLUMBIA — A man impersonating a Salvation Army bell ringer took donations from shoppers Tuesday afternoon outside the Old Navy store.
The man appeared to be homeless and was not wearing a Salvation Army apron or button, according to Salvation Army Regional Coordinator Major Kendall Mathews*.
The man collected money in his hands instead of in the bucket, which is a sign it was a scam, Mathews said.
There was no volunteer scheduled to work at that time at the store, which is in the Shoppes at Stadium shopping center. Old Navy customers told the store managers about the man.
The man left the scene, and the police department doesn't know where he is now, Mathews said. The amount of money he took is unknown.
“I call it, 'poor stealing from the poor'," Mathews said. "That’s messed up. The homeless need to know that they need to come to us.”
Mathews advises people to immediately tell a store manager and then call the Salvation Army if they encounter a suspicious-looking person at a Salvation Army donation point.
“The community is our neighborhood kettle watch,” he said.
Mathews said there aren't enough volunteers to cover all the different kettle locations. The Salvation Army always tries to have volunteers at Walmart, Schnucks and Hy-Vee stores around Columbia, but there aren't enough volunteers to work all the available shifts at other kettle locations.