An international home improvement chain that once claimed ‘You can do it, we can help’, didn’t feel that way about charities operating on its property in Nanaimo, but has changed its position after public outcry.
Earlier this week, The Home Depot management in Nanaimo asked the Salvation Army to remove its Christmas kettle from the front of the store, the result of company policy issued from the chain’s Canadian headquarters in Toronto.
Dawne Anderson, fundraising and promotions coordinator for the Salvation Army in Nanaimo, said she was surprised at the request because the charity has stationed a kettle at that location for several years without any incident.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” said Anderson. “We’ve never been asked to move a kettle. It definitely was a surprise because I wasn’t aware that we weren’t able to be there.”
Anderson said she received several calls from Nanaimo residents expressing their disagreement with the store’s apparent shift in policy.
Nanaimo resident Linda Myers said she learned through a friend that a local minor soccer team was advised its kettle shift was cancelled because the kettle was no longer allowed at the location.
“I’m appalled that a corporation, especially this time of year, wouldn’t allow the Salvation Army on its property to fundraise for the needy,” said Myers. “I mean, what happened to corporate goodwill and helping out your fellow man, especially in light of how corporations are viewed these days? It doesn’t cost them anything to let the kettles be there and the amount of good that it does for the community is incalculable. How can they not let them be there?”
The kettle had operated without incident for a week at The Home Depot before the Salvation Army was asked to remove it.
After calls from the News Bulletin to the company’s head office Wednesday, however, the company reversed its stance, saying the Salvation Army and its kettles would be welcomed back.
“We have a new store manager and he did the right thing according to our policy,” said Tiziana Baccega, company spokeswoman. “We do have a non-solicitation policy in place with the only exception being poppy tagging with the veterans. However, we understand now there was a relationship there in place we were unaware of, so we are going to reach out and invite that group back in.”
Baccega added that The Home Depot has a foundation that supports many of the same charities as the Salvation Army and also supports the Salvation Army through other means, such as its Harbour Light fundraiser in Vancouver and other cities.
“The policy is in place because as soon as you let one group in, you’re opening the door for every other group,” said Baccega. “The challenge is there are groups who solicit for fantastic causes and others that have ulterior motives that we don’t want in our stores.”
Nanaimo will now be the only known Home Depot location in Canada to allow the kettles on its property.
Anderson said with both donations and volunteers down this season compared to previous Christmases, every kettle counts.
The Salvation Army is always looking for more volunteers for its kettle campaign. To help out with kettle stations call 250-740-1004 or 250-716-6595.