Robin Hood at Walmart

No one saw Robin Hood and his Merry men robbing from the richly stocked shelves at the Wal-Mart Store in Sterling, Colo., and donating to the poor via the Toys for Tots box. But, the Sheriff of Nottingham – in the guise of store manager, Brad Barritt – was convinced it happened. He plucked everything from the nearly full donation box and restocked every item for re-sell to raise more money for the retail chain’s coffers.
Toys for Tot organizer in Logan County, Susan Kraich, said she is back to square one.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on that box every time I went to Wal-Mart, and was so excited as it slowly began to fill. Over the weekend, I heard that it was nearly full, so I went to pick it up. I was devastated when I found it empty,” said Kraich. She was allowed to retrieve every item from the shelves that she knew for a fact had been purchased – in other words the three toys she had purchased.
Barritt justified his actions as the Sheriff. He said that the location of the box was out of range of the security video cameras so there was no way of knowing whether all the clothing, sporting goods, food items and toys in the box had been purchased before donation. Plus, none of the donated items were wrapped in a Wal-Mart sack, as he had required – not even the three toys Kraich had placed there. Only Barritt remembered making that stipulation.
Shades of the Sheriff of Nottingham pouncing on the poor box after it had a few coins. Barritt’s timing was perfect for dealing with the likes of those pesky Merry men. He didn’t say anything when the box had a few paltry items. Only after the box for the poor children of Sterling was nearly full did he decide the store was being robbed, and refused to replace any of it without proof of purchase prior to donation.
“I don’t know how I am suppose to prove what was in there … I thought since Wal-Mart agreed to place the box, they were agreeing to keep an eye on it,” Kraich said.
Unrecognized donors paid for the miscommunication. Barritt did not set aside the box and its contents to discuss the problem before reshelving or when Kraich came to pick up the donations. “ My understanding was that the box would be emptied regularly. We had no way of knowing whether or not those items had been paid for,” Barritt said.
Barritt noted that the retailer regularly donates more than $50,000 annually and offered a $1,000 cash grant to Toys for Tots. “Not that it is has anything to do with this situation. Only to say that as a corporation, we are very community minded. I’d hate to see a discrepancy over a few toys change that perception in the eyes of the public,” Barritt said.
Was that an apology clinging to the man’s persistent illusion that Robin Hood and his Merry Band provided the bulk of the items in the Toys for Tots box?
At any rate, the wire story ends with a report that telephone lines buzzed between the Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville and the local charity. As a result, $425 worth of toys were donated to Toys for Tots at the office where Kraich works and Wal-Mart Corp. offered a $1,000 cash grant to Toys for Tots this year. Very generous, very public of them, the company can take a tax write-off on the donation and they get another slug as community minded corporation.
It is just too bad they didn’t honor the community minded actions of the little people who bought a gift or two and quietly, anonymously, dropped them in the box, when no one was looking – out of the view of the camera and hype.

About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
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