For years the Salvation Army has been allowed to stand just outside Target stores, ring a bell, and smile as passersby toss in coins of varying amounts to help provide important services to homeless and poor people throughout the cold weather season across the United States. This year Target has changed its mind.

What is unfortunate about this is how impacting it is to the regional efforts of the Salvation Army. In one estimate on Thursday, Illinois Salvation Army revenues are expected to be diminished by as much as $5 million total. In New Jersey, the take from Army red kettles in front of Target stores has been roughly 17 percent of the total kettle revenue. That equates to roughly $200,000 – money that is used to help feed hungry people, help clothe cold people, and help house homeless people in the coldest and harshest of seasons.

Kettle income is not only used during the holidays, but is also used throughout the year for services such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, youth and senior programs and disaster services. It is hard to understand why Target wouldn’t support the Salvation Army’s efforts to raise support for these vital services because of the humanitarian good that it does for the world around them. Corporate America can always use a bit more quality public relations when it comes to assisting those in need. Target doesn’t seem to care about this.

Even more disgusting is that Target shows no remorse for the impact they are having on the poor in the communities that they now refuse these services to.

As a young man, I often would hold my grandpa’s hand as we would be running errands to different stores in the holiday season as a young boy. Whenever we would run across the kettles from the Salvation Army, it was an exciting thing for me to get to drop in a quarter, a dime, and a nickel. As I got older, I never forgot the good work that the Army is involved in.

Dating all the way back to 1880 in the United States (1865 in Europe), the Salvation Army has depended upon the generosity of good willed people to help them keep on going in their endeavor to do good at every turn.

Every year in Chicago, going back for a decade or better now, multiple donors slip in pure gold coins into the kettles. The value of which is a tremendous boost to that particular kettle kitty. The great thing about the kettle collections is such donors can do so and remain completely anonymous. In a sense, the kettle collections bring out the best in man – generosity without recognition. And perhaps accomplish the most good – helping those who need it most.

To the Salvation Army’s credit – even though they are now being denied space on public sidewalks – they have been careful to publicly state that they wish only the best for their future relationships with stores like Target which have eliminated this important revenue stream for them.

But I don’t have to be as gracious, nor will I. Target needs to hear “en masse” that Americans miss our ringing bells. We miss the thought of true charity as expressed at Christmas time. Having spoken with Target Corporation in their worldwide headquarters, they informed me that senior management is extremely concerned about the impact of this controversial decision and will welcome and read all correspondence on the matter. Please send your thoughts to [email protected].

Target may have no soul as a corporation, but if they welcome back the bell ringers to the public sidewalks in front of their establishments they could go a long way toward helping people believe they do.

To me it makes no difference whether they do or not. But what kind of hard-hearted beasts do you have to be to prevent those who are willing from doing so?

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