Opinion: Target keeps kettles out

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Angela Loiacono

If you’re planning to buy that special someone a holiday gift from Target this year, you won’t have to worry about having extra change ready before you walk in the door. The Salvation Army bell-ringers have been asked to stop collecting donations outside Target stores nationwide. That’s right; this winter, you won’t see a bundled-up man decked out in a Santa suit, ringing bells outside the warm confines of the store.

In retaliation, the media have been attacking Target because it has chosen to enforce its corporate policies. However, according to a statement made by Target, it is simply upholding its long-standing no-solicitation policy. In an attempt to create a “comfortable, distraction-free shopping environment,” it doesn’t allow individuals or non-profit organizations to solicit donations. Target has been nice enough to make an exception for the Salvation Army until this year.

Fox News reported that last year, Target locations helped account for 10 percent of the $93 million collected by the Salvation Army. While the Salvation Army might miss that sizable donation come this holiday season, Target should be commended for their efforts in the past.

I have to admit, when I first heard about Target keeping the kettles away, I was disappointed with the company. It didn’t make sense to enforce a policy that could potentially hurt public perception toward the corporation. It also didn’t seem morally right for a large corporation to hinder the success of a non-profit organization. But the whole story wasn’t told.

Back in January, Target contacted the Salvation Army to inform them of the corporation’s decision to enforce the policy. It wanted to give the non-profit organization time to find other ways to fund-raise. Target also offered to aid the Salvation Army in other ways, as long as it was within their guidelines. Unfortunately, the Salvation Army never presented an alternative that would comply with the rules.

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    Meanwhile, the subject is getting negative media attention across the country. Boycotts are sprouting, and customers are becoming disgruntled.

    These people need to open their minds and see the big picture. Target spokeswoman Lena Michaud said in a Boston Globe interview, “Target distributes an average of $2 million per week to various non-profit groups in the communities where it does business, including the Salvation Army.” Clearly, Target makes an extraordinary effort to aid organizations in need.

    I don’t agree with Target’s decision to keep the ringers out, but I can’t help but think that the Salvation Army is milking this for all it’s worth. The media attention that a controversy like this brings can only help the organization. It appears the Salvation Army is just trying to elicit some sympathy donations from the public. And as much as I believe that the Salvation Army is a good cause, its strategy of pulling in more money doesn’t seem moral.

    To be honest, there are many people who complain about the Salvation Army. Just yesterday, a friend told me how she tried to bargain with a bell-ringer. She offered him free drinks if he stopped the incessant ringing outside her store. If there weren’t people in the world who got annoyed with non-profit organizations asking for money, Target wouldn’t have to develop a no-soliciting policy in the first place. I find it hard to believe that people who are out shopping don’t have at least some money to hand out as they enter a store. But for some, being asked is a nuisance.

    The next time you go to the store, don’t be that person. While you’re out shopping this holiday season, find a bell-ringer and give whatever you can. It’s worth the two seconds of your time to help someone in need. Don’t get lost in the idea that a simple thing like giving away your spare change isn’t important.

    Angela Loiacono is a sophomore in LAS. Her column runs Fridays. She can be reached at [email protected].