To keep their bells ringing and donations pouring down their chimneys, Volunteers of America holiday workers are scrambling to find transportation to area malls after someone stole...

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EVERETT — To keep their bells ringing and donations pouring down their chimneys, Volunteers of America holiday workers are scrambling to find transportation to area malls after someone stole the group’s van over the weekend.

When seasonal bell ringers arrived Saturday morning, decked out in their trademark Santa hats and ready to work at store entrances, they discovered the van had disappeared from the parking lot of the Everett thrift store and headquarters of Volunteers of America, Western Washington.

“We’re hoping the grinch will come out of the woods and give us back Christmas for everybody,” said Howie Odden, director of development and communications for the nonprofit, which has an annual budget of $18 million and serves nine counties.

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The group hires 45 seasonal bell ringers, some of whom are homeless and unemployed, to gather donations into “chimneys,” and uses the 12-passenger van to deploy them to Alderwood, Everett and Marysville malls and area Albertsons stores.

Although less known than their Salvation Army counterparts, the bell ringers collect around $120,000 annually, which goes toward food, clothing, shelter and some of the group’s 22 programs. Among the programs are the Everett Food Bank, which provides food for nearly 6,000 families, and Camp Volasuca in Sultan, which offers recreational activities for developmentally disabled children and adults.

Although bell ringers are making do by car-pooling, they hope to recover the van or find other means of transportation soon, Odden said.

The van was stolen sometime between 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday from the thrift-store parking lot on 2802 Broadway in Everett. It’s described as a gray Ford 350 2400 with license number 918JOZ.

Everett police have no leads but ask anyone with information to call their tip line at 425-257-8450. To contact Volunteers of America’s office, call 425-259-3191.

Rosario Daza: 425-783-0604 or rdaza@seattletimes.com