Giant Food stores snub Salvation Army bell ringers

Keith Cottingham Contributor
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Donations to Salvation Army red kettles in the D.C. area are down significantly this year, due in part to a new solicitation policy by one supermarket chain.

Three weeks before The Salvation Army was set to kick off its annual Red Kettle drive this holiday season, Giant Food informed the charity that its iconic bell ringers would be limited to four hours a day for just 12 days this year outside of Giant stores – a fraction of the time previously allowed.

Giant’s new policy restricting kettle donations at their stores – where about half of total D.C.-area kettle donations were raised last year – is already having an effect.

The Salvation Army Capital Area Command reports that, for the first eight days of this year’s campaign, total red kettle donations in the D.C. area amounted to $158,375 – a 32 percent decrease from last year’s total during the same period.

The loose change and small bills add up. Last year, Salvation Army red kettles collected $1.35 million in the D.C. area alone.

In a statement to The Daily Caller, Giant Food spokesman Jamie Miller said the new soliciting restrictions are meant to accommodate other non-profit organizations and community groups wishing to solicit donations outside of Giant stores.

Though he remains “concerned,” Major Steve Morris, D.C. area commander for The Salvation Army, said he is hopeful The Salvation Army will meet its goal of $1.6 million this holiday season.

“The pocket change, dollar bills, checks, and occasional gold coins really add up, and make it possible for The Salvation Army to help people in need throughout the entire community,” Morris said.

In addition to the Red Kettle drive, donations can be made by visiting The Salvation Army Web site, by sending the text message GIVE to 85944, or by dialing 1-800-SAL-ARMY.