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Salvation Army Bell Ringers Shut Out of Some Businesses

Salvation Army Bell Ringers Shut Out of Some Businesses

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- The Salvation Army's bell-ringing solicitors are finding more businesses are no longer willing to let them set up their kettles.

Capt. Rich Pease of the Northern Utah chapter of the Salvation Army said nationwide corporate policies against soliciting are costing him more locations every year. This year, he lost Target stores, and he said Wal-Mart is limiting him to 14 days before Christmas. He almost lost Albertsons stores, but they still will be available for this year, at least.

Capt. James Sullivan, the Utah coordinator for the Salvation Army, said Sunday that the Albertsons decision was made Wednesday or Thursday and about 30 Utah Albertsons stores, from Ogden to Spanish Fork, will participate.

"We're having more and more difficulty placing bell ringers because more are adopting corporate no-solicitation policies," Pease said. "They have to apply that to everyone, and unfortunately, the Salvation Army gets caught up in that."

Malls were the first to go, he said. He hasn't been able to place kettles at the Newgate Mall for several years.

National chains have joined in, fearful that if they allow one, they have to allow everyone and pretty soon a mob of solicitors will scare their customers away.

The Target kettles in Riverdale and Layton accounted for about 15 percent of last year's fund-raising, but "we don't want people to get upset and not shop at Target. We do understand where they're coming from, and Target does support us in other ways."

Another problem is that with the increase in cashless buying, with credit cards and the Internet, people carry less spare change and some never go near a department store.

"We need to become more creative in our fund-raising," Pease said

This year, he is trying something new, working with convenience stores, restaurants and other stores to sell small paper cutout red kettles for $1 each, with the dollar being donated to the Salvation Army.

Some of the stores where they are still allowed are Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, Meier & Frank, Walgreen, Smith's and Albertsons, Shopko, Harmons, Big Lots, Kmart and Acres Market.

Sullivan said the Salvation Army has recruited about 25 more Utah businesses, including 16 Top Stop convenience stores, to participate in the program and is hoping to recruit about 75 more.

The charity has not reduced its goal of raising $300,000 between now and Christmas Day in Utah. About $40,000 of that is expected to come from donations at Albertsons stores.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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