Salvation Army must work to regain public trust, major says

A Salvation Army spokesman says the organization must work to regain the public's trust after a former executive director was charged with stealing donated toys.

A spokesperson for the Toronto Salvation Army said Wednesday the organization will have to work to regain the public's trust in the wake of a scandal in which a former executive director is charged with stealing $2 million in donated toys.

"During a time like this you have to work doubly hard to answer the questions of people who raise important issues and I think that's what we’re doing," Salvation Army Maj. John Murray said Wednesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "It’s about being open, honest and transparent in the work that we do."

David Rennie, the former executive director of the Salvation Army’s facility on Railside Road, was charged with stealing donated items, including toys for children in need.

Rennie turned himself in to police this week and has been charged with theft, possession of property obtained by crime and criminal breach of trust. He was also fired last week.

He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Jan. 4.

During their investigation, police found toys stashed at various warehouses across the city.

'Challenging period' for Salvation Army

The Salvation Army's red donation kettles and ringing bells are a mainstay in shopping malls during the holiday shopping season.

Murray said the Salvation Army must now work to prove the charity organization is worthy of the public’s trust. He also points out the alleged thefts appear to be the work of one person in a large organization that has 10,000 employees across the country.

"The alleged crimes that took place were strategic, planned, they were intentional and they were deliberate," he said. "We are going to get over this challenging period. We’re going to work to regain the trust of people who might be questioning in this time of need."

Police plan to return all the goods once they have finished taking inventory.

"We will do everything in our power to ensure that something like this never happens again," said Murray.