Silver bells will not be heard at Target

Jennifer Nacin

The familiar sound of silver bells won’t be heard this year at Target stores across America.

Target informed the Salvation Army in January that kettle stations would no longer be allowed in the front of its stores, said Brie Heath, spokeswoman for Target Corp.

Heath said Target has decided to stop making the Salvation Army an exception to its no solicitation policy.

She said Target has permitted the non-profit organization to raise funds by soliciting customers for years, but, because of recent requests from other organizations to do the same, Target decided to honor its long-standing no solicitation policy out of fairness to all non-profit organizations.

“We became a destination for other non-profits who were looking for fund-raising opportunities,” Heath said. “Because of our no solicitation policy, the question that would always come back to us was, ‘How are we different from the Salvation Army?'”

Theresa Whitfield, spokeswoman for the Salvation Army, said the organization raised more than $8.8 million from the kettles posted at 1,088 Target stores last year.

“Anytime we lose a kettle location, we’re disappointed,” said Whitfield.

“We feel it’s important in our ability to serve people and to maintain this level of visibility and the privilege to raise funds.”

She said they have been trying to secure alternative kettle locations and have received support from other companies willing to welcome Salvation Army kettles and volunteers.

Heath said Target customers have expressed feelings of both agreement and anger in regards to the store’s decision to hold the Salvation Army to the company’s no-solicitation policy.

“This is not a decision we took lightly because we knew it would have an impact on the Salvation Army, and we knew that either guests would embrace the decision we made or they would have concerns,” Heath said. “It’s fair to say we’ve received concerns from guests on both sides.”

Eric Johnson, captain for the Boone Salvation Army facility, said the Boone and Story County Salvation Army locations will lose $10,000 to $15,000 from the lack of Target kettle locations.

He said money raised goes toward things like rent and food assistance and emergency shelter lodging.

All the money the Salvation Army raises in a certain county stays in that county, Johnson said.

He said he hopes Target customers will not stop shopping at Target because store provides employment and financial support for many residents and families in the area.

“[Target has] been a great support to us in the past, and I am very grateful to them for allowing us to use their stores and raise funds in the past,” Johnson said.

He said if customers stop shopping at Target, the community will have more families in need of financial help or employment.

Johnson said other corporations with local locations — like Walgreen Co. and Cub Foods — have “picked up the slack” by allowing Salvation Army kettles and volunteers to relocate to their stores.

Heath said Target will preserve a partnership with the Salvation Army through grant programs, volunteer opportunities and gift card donations.

“We are just going to be working in a different format with the Salvation Army,” she said.