Fort Mill Times

Nonprofits lament loss of Walmart's support

Could not-for-profit candy and cookie sales in front of Wal-Mart’s doors be a thing of the past? Some local organizations aren’t sure.

The Lion’s Club of Tega Cay typically spends three days every fall in front of Wal-Mart’s doors, asking shoppers to purchases candy with proceeds to benefit the club’s charitable services. The services provided through their fundraising include free vision care, health screenings and eye surgery for needy people, said Lion’s Club member Jerry Church.

But when club members asked if they could once again spend “Candy Days” in front of the Wal-Mart in Tega Cay, they received a different answer than they expected.

“We were told that the policy had changed,” Church said.

Instead, the Lion’s Club will only sell its candy outside of Lowe’s Foods and Food Lion stores Oct. 1 through Oct. 3. Last year, the group raised approximately $2,000.

“I would say the traffic in front of Wal-Mart is considerably more than other grocery store[s],” Church said. “How much less will we receive? I suspect it will be much less. It really supports a lot of things that particularly in this economy people might need and be looking for more than before.”

The store manager for the Tega Cay Wal-Mart directed questions to the company’s corporate media relations department. Calls to the department were not immediately returned.

The Lion’s Club may not be the only organization affected. Katherine Lambert, executive vice-president for the Hornet’s Nest Girl Scout’s Council in Charlotte, which oversees Fort Mill and Tega Cay troops, said she has heard that their annual cookie sales outside Wal-Mart may also be prohibited. “Because we don’t do the front-of-store sales until February or March, we haven’t approached them yet,” Lambert said. “But our product sales grapevine across the country is saying that some store managers are not letting us sell in front of stores and some are.”

It remains to be seen whether the Wal-Mart in Tega Cay will be one of those stores. If it is, cookie sales for troops in the area will be affected, Lambert added, but she continues to hope for the best.

“Wal-Mart is certainly one of many retail outlets that people visit significantly, so it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to be a good corporate citizen.”