I had some interesting correspondence with the people at Target stores this week. By now you have probably have heard that Target has told the Salvation Army they can no longer solicit in front of their stores during the Christmas season. That’s right: no red kettles, no ringing bells. Great, you say—those bells sort of got on my nerves anyway, so why should I care?
Well here’s why: The Salvation Army does more good for more people than just about any charity on the planet. From providing meals, clothing, and shelter in local communities around the world, to providing relief to the victims of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters, to providing substance-abuse treatment programs that are among the most successful in the world, to providing a greater amount of support for troops overseas than even the Red Cross, the Salvation Army does it all.
For the record, the Salvation Army gets 70% of the funding for its programs from the bell-ringing kettle stations outside stores and other places of business during the Christmas season. Shoppers put $94 million into the red kettles last Christmas season, $9 million in front of Target stores, making it the second highest place for collections--right behind Wal-Mart. Their loss from not being allowed to collect money outside Target stores this year means that a lot of assistance that won’t be going to people in need.
So I wrote the People at Target and said, what gives? “Jennifer Hanson” from Target Executive Offices sent a reply which says almost the same thing as their webpage devoted to this issue:
"We receive an increasing number of solicitation inquiries from non-profit organizations and other groups each year and determined that if we continue to allow the Salvation Army to solicit then it opens the door to any other groups that wish to solicit our guests. While some of our guests may welcome the opportunity to support their favorite charity or cause, allowing these organizations to solicit means that Target would also have to permit solicitation by organizations whose cause or behavior may be unacceptable to our guests."
Hmmm—“…whose cause or behavior may be unacceptable to our guests.” What could that possibly mean? Could they possibly be referring to various "gay rights" groups such as the so called "Celebration Army?" The Celebration Army, in case you hadn't heard, was created by Charlie Rounds, president and co-founder of RSVP Productions Inc., a St. Louis Park-based travel agency catering to “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender [GLBT] travelers.” They had planned to solicit donations at Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall (the location of Target headquarters), Mall of America and other Minnesota locations this Christmas season with kettles and bell ringers until a judge shut them down for treading on the Salvation Army's name recognition.
The story behind the story began in 2001, when the Salvation Army decided that they would only provide benefits to married spouses of employees and not domestic partners. Since then the Salvation Army has been the "target" of a relentless campaign by gay rights groups. For more on the groups that have "targetted" the Salvation Army take a look at this article. For more on the many worthwhile project undertaken by the Salvation Army, take a careful look at their website. I think you'll be impressed.
The bottom line is that Target has capitulated to the campaign against the Salvation Army and and ended their relationship with this most worthwhile of American charities. And so, I am sad to say, my family and I will be ending our patronage of Target until there is a red kettle in front of the stores once again. If you feel the same way, write and let them know.