If you give away Beanie Babies, you can’t ring bells for the Salvation Army.
Or maybe you can. A bell-ringer in Wausau, Wisc., was recently reinstated after handing out the collectible children’s toys to kids at a local playground leading the ubiquitous charitable group to take away his bell.
The man, whose name has not been made public, mysteriously appeared at local elementary school playground dressed as Santa Claus, and handed out Beanie Babies to the kids. The incident caused alarm among parents and school officials, but it turns out there was a perfectly innocent explanation.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the man was dressed as Santa to help raise money as part of the Salvation Army’s traditional holiday fundraising effort, in which workers stand on streets all over the country ringing bells.
This particular bell-ringer donned a Santa suit and handed out Beanie Babies to passers-by who proffered donations.
When his shift was over, the man began walking home, still clad in his Santa gear. When he passed Franklin Elementary School, the delighted kids called him to come over to the fence separating their playground from the street.
The man did, and spread some good cheer by handing out Beanie Babies to the children.
The school made the kids give the toys back and the local Salvation Army told the man his bell-ringing services would no longer be required.
But after determining that the ersatz Santa had no nefarious intentions, the Salvation Army later that week gave him back his right to ring bells.
Beanie Babies (see picture, above) are a stuffed toy that became a national craze in the 1990s. Some first-edition Beanie Babies sell for almost $30,000 on eBay.
SOURCES: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (2), WSAU Radio, eBay