The red kettle stolen from the Salvation Army was stolen and then returned by a good Samaritan. Photo via Salvation Army.

Last week a Salvation Army kettle filled with donations was stolen at a Von’s in La Jolla by a man who drove off on a golf cart, in a year of decreasing donations, officials confirmed.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, a man described as homeless unhooked the kettle from its stand and fled while the bell ringer was greeting a passerby, according to Salvation Army officials.

Officials say they immediately filed a police report and a few days later, a good samaritan found the kettle broken and empty. It appeared to have been wrenched open with a crowbar. That person gave the kettle to the fire department, which then returned it to the Salvation Army.

“We need Red Kettle donations to help people all year long,” said Major George Baker, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army, in a statement.

“Right now we need donations to bring the miracle of Christmas to those who are hungry, those who have lost their jobs, those who hope to give their children at least one toy on Christmas morning,” said Baker.

“But when Christmas is over, those people still face hunger, job loss, discouragement and we desperately want to help them all year long.”

This year donations to the Salvation Army is down 12 percent, which means the organization has received less than $62,700 in red kettle donations from the previous year, said officials.

In San Diego County, the Salvation Army needs $365,000 in Red Kettle donations to meet its goal of raising $835,000, said officials. The Red Kettle Campaign ends on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. There is only one week left to raise funds.

All donations stay in the county and help provide meals and Christmas toys to families in need, according to the Salvation Army. Those who wish to donate can give online at www.sandiego.salvationarmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (2769).

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