Yes, New Albany, there really is a Scrooge.
Last week we learned that the dastardly folks at Target have served notice to the Salvation Army that bell ringers are no longer allowed on company property.
The announcement prompted a predictable outpouring of indignant schmaltz from commentators unwilling or unable to avoid aiming for the center of such an inviting, uh, target, like the Indy Star’s Ruth Holladay:
“Call it a safe bet — maybe even a bright-red, bull’s-eye, fashionable, smartly priced bet — that American life has become too corporate or complex when Target banishes the Salvation Army’s bell ringers.”
Holladay notes that the holiday season, 2003 – which according to my recollection must have begun just after Labor Day judging from the seemingly incessant bell ringing across the street at the still-good-guy Kroger supermarket – brought the Salvation Army $90 million nationwide, with roughly 10% of the total coming from Target buckets.
Target management apparently has said little other than to suggest that other organizations solicit similar privileges, and consequently, there must be a standard to judge such requests.
While people like the Star’s Holladay gleefully puncture the oversized straw man clothed in Target duds, the rest of us might contemplate the company’s very genuine dilemma. What’s to stop other charitable organizations from ringing bells during June, or April, or year round? Who’s to say which of the charities are the most worthy? Exactly how did the Salvation Army score the lucrative doorway postings in the first place?
Holladay dutifully lists the many programs funded by the bell ringers in the Indianapolis area:
“The organization runs a domestic violence shelter, after-school programs at five community centers, drug and alcohol rehab services, and transitional housing.”
At the same time, a visit to the Salvation Army’s web site (http://www1.salvationarmy.org/) reveals the other, generally forgotten reason for being:
“The Salvation Army is a truly international movement, sharing in the mission of Christ for the salvation and transformation of the world. Its members are at worship and at work in over a hundred countries.”
Why must Target or anyone else choose one Christian missionary over the other?
Holladay closes with a verse from the immortal pop song, “Chains Rush In, Where Other Chains Fear to Tread”:
“The Salvation Army here is moving forward. Thursday at lunchtime, it will hold an apple festival on Monument Circle, with Applebee’s restaurants and other sponsors. A free-will donation will get you hot apple cobbler, and proceeds will benefit the charity.”
The Holladay article is at: