Pet Please #40: No Salvation Army

Yesterday I was about to walk out of the grocery store when I felt myself tensing up. Here we go, I thought. Time to avoid eye contact with the Salvation Army guy.

Then I walked outside, and the space outside of the store was empty. No red bucket. No bell. No guy. He’s done for the year.

It was a wonderful feeling. I felt like a weight had been removed from my shoulders.

I have nothing against the Salvation Army as an organization. They do good things. But, let’s be honest–they pander. They’re right there outside of the grocery store where you’ve filled your bags with groceries because you can afford it, and if you walk right by, you feel guilty. And if you decide to give something, can you honestly tell me that you feel good about the gift because it’s going to go help someone in need? Or is your feeling one of relief? A feeling of, “I don’t have to feel bad for just walking past this guy today because I dropped 57 cents in the bucket”?

Why do we give social permission to the Salvation Army to set up shop in grocery store alcoves? How would you feel if 10 other charities joined the Salvation Army guy on the front stoop? What if every charity you give to decided to ask you for money not in an annual letter, but in person all December long at the place where you buy food?

This type of pandering is antiquated. Every once in a while I’m going through the checkout line at the grocery store and the cashier asks me if I’d like to add a dollar to my total to go towards some cause. I always say yes. It’s just a dollar, and it’s added seamlessly to my credit card bill. I think the Salvation Army should adopt this model throughout December every year. In a time when fewer and fewer people have loose change jingling around in their pockets after buying groceries, I’d wager that the Salvation Army would make a lot more money that way.

For now, I’m looking forward to the next 11 months, Salvation-Army free.