Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Giant supermarkets had planned to limit the amount of time The Salvation Army’s bell-ringers could stand outside their stores and bring attention to the iconic red kettle, which many of us associate with giving during the holiday season. The story was widely-reported, because in the past, The Salvation Army would collect half of its total haul from Giant patrons. Limiting “kettle time” to one week in November and one week in December would drastically affect how much money could be raised.
The reactions of local shoppers have been divided; some are angry or saddened at the move, others applaud it, because they don’t care for the “pressure” to give or because of their disagreements with The Salvation Army (specifically with regards to the LGBT community).
I tried to contact someone at Giant because I had several questions about this change in policy. An email sent to Jamie Miller, who manages Public & Community Relations for Giant yielded this prepared statement, which was shared with local media:
Giant is committed to supporting the communities in which we operate, and
we allow non-profit organizations and community groups to solicit outside
our stores. We receive hundreds of requests from groups requesting
permission to use the areas outside of our stores for fundraising,
education purposes, and to collect signatures. Because of the increased
needs in our communities, we felt it essential to create opportunities for
as many community groups as possible.
Though many of our competitors do not allow solicitation, Giant believes
that non-profit organizations and community groups are vital to the
communities we serve. We have recently increased the opportunity for
groups to have a presence outside our stores. Previously groups were
permitted on Saturday and Sunday. We have expanded the opportunities to
Monday through Saturday, one group per day per store, with opportunities
being coordinated and scheduled through our local store managers.
In regard to the Salvation Army, in order to support their good work, we
have invited the organization to collect donations at all 179 of our store
locations during a full week in November and a full week in December. We
look forward to working with the Salvation Army and the many other
community groups we support to maximize the opportunities we provide them.
Hmmm. That’s nicely-worded, but it didn’t answer any of my questions. I wanted to know:
1) Have longtime shoppers contacted you to comment either for or against it?
2) Was Giant aware that about half of what The Salvation Army raised last
year came from bell ringers in front its stores before it decided to limit
3) Was the perception that The Salvation Army is anti-Gay a factor in
4) Was this decision made locally or did it come from Royal Ahold?
Jamie Miller wrote back, promptly:
We have no further comment beyond the statement I provided.
That’s unfortunate. I know I’m not the only one with those questions and it would’ve been great to learn more about such a controversial decision.