UPDATE: Salvation Army kettle stolen in Manitowoc; businesses rush to replace it

MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) - Everyone is familiar with the sights and sounds that come with the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign. But what happened at the Salvation Army stand outside Manitowoc’s Hobby Lobby was unexpected.

“Your heart just sinks,” said Lt. Jenny Moffitt.

The kettle and stand was stolen Wednesday night during a brief period when it was unattended.

Moffitt is the corps officer for Manitowoc Salvation Army. She says it’s impossible to know exactly how much was in the kettle, but says it was likely several hundred dollars. But the money wasn’t the only thing of value taken.

“It was not just the kettle that was stolen," said Moffitt. "It was the entire stand, the sign, the metal stand, the metal base, and the kettle, which is about $350 to replace."

Moffitt says, for now, they’re using an older stand as a replacement.

They did file a police report, but haven’t gotten an update on the case yet. But there has been a silver lining.

“So incredible,” said Moffitt.

Just an hour after the group posted about the theft on its Facebook page, the community stepped up.

“We just felt it was the right thing to do. We don't like seeing that stuff happening in our community and there's a lot of people that relies on those funds and it just felt right," said Jerry Duggan, owner of Jerry Duggan General Contractors in Manitowoc.

Duggan and Becky Tomchek, who owns Corner to Corner Cleaning and Care LLC, immediately decided to call the Salvation Army to donate the money needed to replace the kettle and stand.

“They were just astounded, they were shocked, you could hear it in their voices,” said Duggan.

“It was just an absolute wonderful moment to say ‘Oh my gosh, somebody stepped up,’” said Moffitt.

Plenty of others quickly followed with offers of their own to make up for the donations that may have been taken. On Friday, Board of Directors of the Helen Gajdys Reis and Lester Reis Endowment Fund donated $400 to cover the amount that was, potentially, in the stolen kettle.

“[It shows] that there’s still good in the world, it’s a good feeling,” said Tomchek.

“There’s still good people out there,” said Duggan.

The Salvation Army is grateful for the community’s support.

“This community has shown up and delivered in a massively generous way, and I can’t say thank you enough,” said Moffitt.

Moffitt says they plan to purchase the new stand at the end of the season.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

The Salvation Army of Manitowoc County says one of its fund-raising red kettles was stolen Wednesday night.

The charity posted on Facebook Thursday that when a driver came to pick up the kettle at a Hobby Lobby in Manitowoc at 8 o'clock, the kettle and its stand were gone. Workers remembered seeing it at about 6 p.m.

The Salvation Army said it can't know how much money was in the kettle but said it was likely hundreds of dollars. The kettle and stand would cost $350 to replace.

Local businesses responded.

About an hour after that post, the Salvation Army announced Jerry Duggan General Contractors and Corner to Corner Cleaners and Care donated $350 to replace both the kettle and the stand, and comments came from other individuals asking how they could donate.

Anyone who has information about the stolen kettle should call Manitowoc police.