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Salvation Army bell ringers say they were harassed

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RACINE COUNTY -- Two African-American Carthage College students pitching in as Salvation Army bell ringers say they felt threatened when a group made racial slurs against them in Racine County. Community members say this disturbing news comes as a big surprise.

The two college students say they didn't get the warm welcome they were expecting when helping out with the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign at a Walmart store in Racine County last Wednesday. They report a group called them the "N" word while they were working to raise money for families in need. The bell ringers felt so uncomfortable, they asked to be moved to another location, where they felt safer.

Salvation Army Captain Jerry Henderson says this incident is disturbing, though he says it's not the first time he's heard of something like this happening. "This sort of bigotry cannot be tolerated. It's that simple. I went out there and talked to them about it, and just explained that this sort of behavior is not tolerated," Henderson said.

Community members say this doesn't sound like the Racine community, and were surprised to hear about the incident. "I think it's terribly unfortunate. Usually we are really friendly and warm towards bell ringers and non-profit organizations, so it just sounds out of character for our community," Racine resident Kathy Strege said.

The college student bell ringers say they're trying to put the whole incident behind them, and they're not going to let this incident stop them from ringing bells and helping the Salvation Army this holiday season.