The Salvation Army used to recruit high profile volunteers like Hovey Dabney or Pete Gillen to ring the bell for its kettle drive.
Volunteers are harder to come by these days, and the Salvation Army hires unemployed or homeless people to man the kettles.
Dennis Danaeue had lost his job as an electrician and was eager to ring the bell for $7 an hour in December.
Christmas is over, and Danaeue still hasn't paid off the present he had on hold for his daughter Macayla. When he and a friend got paid January 6, "We were shorted on hours and money," alleges Danaeue. "I lost a whole day's check."
His friend, Don Carr, alleges he was shorted seven hours regular time and three hours overtime at time and a half– about 80 bucks. "For people who are out of work or homeless, that's staggering," says Danaeue.
"We are not trying to cheat any employee," says Major Bruce Smith at the Salvation Army. "I have not cheated any bell ringer."
Smith says the first he heard of any problems was when Danaeue came by January 10.
Danaeue and Carr say they complained January 6 when they got the checks, and that a supervisor was supposed to take care of the problem.
"If we owe eight more hours, we'll pay him," says Smith. But Carr's hours are documented, he says. "To say we owe any more would be incorrect."
Hours are documented by a time slip in the kettle and the hours are verified by Smith or a supervisor when they pick up the bell ringer, says Smith.
"I had one who said he didn't get off until 9 o'clock," says Smith. "I picked up his kettle and bell at 4:30."
Danaeue disagrees that ringers filled in their hours on the time slip. He says the slips contained the ringer's name, date, location and start time– but no end time– and that the supervisors recorded stop times and the start times of relief workers inaccurately.
Twenty-two paid bell ringers helped the Salvation Army exceed its goal of $85,000, raking in $106,000 this season, according to Smith. And Smith says most of the 22 paid ringers did fine.
By the afternoon of January 10, Danaeue had his check for the missing $50.
"It's been very emotional for me," he says, "adding a lot more stress to me that I don't need. At that moment, it was the only income I had. To have half taken...."
And then he was off to get Macayla's present in the mail.
Don Carr and Dennis Danaeue claimed they were not paid for hours they rang bells in a January 6 check from the Salvation Army.
PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER