Are times so desperate, or a few people so heartless, that they don't understand that they're not supposed to rob from the Salvation Army kettles?

Major Robert W. Dixon, director of Philadelphia's Salvation Army, says three kettle sites have been robbed this year. Sunday, the red kettle in front of the Acme on Roosevelt Boulevard and Magee Avenue was stolen.

"The volunteer on duty was shaken and upset by the robbery but, fortunately, not injured," Dixon said. He asks anyone who knows anything about the incident to call the police.

This is a holiday season for many faiths, which should help people build a moral framework. So it is especially unnerving when marauders hit a charity before Christmas.

Among the signs and sounds of the season are Salvation Army volunteers ringing their bells or singing. Even the crankiest among us put money in the kettles, knowing that it will go toward helping others.

"We are concerned for our volunteers as well as for the people who rely on these donations," said Dixon. We all should care as much.