Instead of pocketing change from passersby, Jonathan Spivey, 29, wanted to sing on a sidewalk to raise funds for charity. But the aspiring actor says the Salvation Army turned him away because women bring in more money.
Spivey, 29, told the New York Post that when he called in on his first day of work on Sunday, a Salvation Army employee, whom he didn’t identify, said that she would be giving his job to a woman.
“'Women bring in more money than men,'" Spivey said the employee told him. “'Young, cute girls are bringing in more money. I had to let another man go today, so we’re going to put out an ad targeting women for the position.'”
Throughout the United States, the Salvation Army has 25,000 bell-ringers in 5,000 communities. Each local unit develops its own guidelines, Jennifer Byrd, the Salvation Army’s national public relations director, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.
But across the board, the organization says that it doesn’t discriminate when it comes to hiring. “The Salvation Army offers bell ringing opportunities to all those who qualify, regardless of gender,” Trish Raines, another Salvation Army spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
Raines also said the organization does not know the identity of the employee Spivey accused of discrimination. “We don’t have any information as to who told [Spivey] this,” Raines told The Huffington Post. “If you look on any street corner in America, you’ll find men and women ringing bells for the Salvation Army.”
Some volunteers interviewed by the Post agree that female bell-ringers are more successful than male-bell ringers.
“Every day we have a count of who brings in the most money, and so far, it’s been females,” Anthony Pollock, 50, a bell-ringer in Manhattan, told the paper.
But feminine features aren’t necessarily what inspire passersby to drop big bills in a red kettle. One of the organization’s most successful fundraisers is a male who stands on four legs.
Tinker, a miniature horse, uses his mouth to ring his bell and to hold a sign reading,"Thank You Merry Christmas" at his station in West Bend, Wis., according to the Associated Press. He also brings in 10 times the amount of a typical bell-ringer.
"A good kettle for a couple of hours brings in about $250, and for the same time period [Tinker and his owners] have been known to bring in $2,500," Major Roger Ross, a Salvation Army commander, told the AP. "They line up to put money in the kettle."
In North Carolina, bell-ringer Jessica Chapman of Charlotte is hoping her tenacity -- not her gender -- will impress donors.
Chapman is aiming to ring her bell for 27 hours straight this week to raise awareness for the cause and to break her city’s record, the Charlotte Observer reports.
“We tend to attract older supporters,” Chapman told the news outlet. “A lot of the younger generation aren’t aware of the Salvation Army’s work, and I see this as a way to get in front of them.”