GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A scrooge is on the loose in South Mississippi and Gulfport police need your help nabbing the thief. A man was caught on camera outside the Winn Dixie on Pass Road stealing a Salvation Army kettle full of money.
"He really needs to return that bucket and he really needs to apologize," Salvation Army Bell Ringer Michelle Pope said.
Pope was outside the Winn Dixie all day Tuesday and was about to wrap up her shift when something unexpected happened.
"The next thing you know I was pushed really hard where I almost hit the ground, but I didn't," Pope said, "When I stood back and realized that my bucket was running down the road. I was running down the road behind it."
Surveillance video caught 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.
"I stood up too long yesterday ringing the bell and I'm doing it for a reason," Pope said. "This man stole from charity, he took from the needy people that's in need and that type of stuff. That really messed with me."
Although Pope took off running after the thief, she was unable to catch him.
The Salvation Army's Major Gary Sturdivant said, "It's so sad because if that individual would come down to the Salvation Army, if they would have a need, my goodness, we will meet that need, if we have the resources."
Major Sturdivant said in his 30 years at The Salvation Army he has never had a kettle stolen.
"This morning before we left out, we prayed for that person," Sturdivant said. "Turn your life around, get some help, reach out because something is not right when someone can do something like that, you know, right here at Christmas time trying to help other folks."
While there's no way to know how much money was stolen, Major Sturdivant guesses it was anywhere from $150 to $300.
"We are going to get through this and the Lord is going to bless us, and I know this community is giving and they will make it up. I don't doubt that at all," Major Sturdivant said.
This holiday season The Salvation Army set a goal of raising $205,000 throughout South Mississippi. The money raised is what the non-profit relies on all year long.
"We try to stretch throughout the year. We are open 363 days throughout the year. We do close Thanksgiving and Christmas unless we have a cold weather shelter open," Major Sturdivant said. "We help folks with rent, utilities, prescriptions, disaster... the list is just endless."
If you have extra money this holiday season, Major Sturdivant asks for your help.
"Folks, just anytime you walk by one of our kettles, maybe you rounded up whatever change you had, or dollars, twenties. You know, at night when we count our money, if someone has a $100 bill they must stand up and dance. So send us some $100s; we want to see them dance," Sturdivant said laughing. "Just give and we promise you we will do the most good with your time, money and resources at The Salvation Army because we are motivated by the love of Christ."
As for Pope she is trying to find the courage to get back to work so the grinch doesn't steal her Christmas, too.
"This is the only source of income I have right now for my kids' Christmas. And right about now, if I don't go back out there, they won't get anything for Christmas," Pope said.
If you have any information about what happened, you are asked to call Gulfport Police at (228) 868-5900.