The Spirit of Giving

The holidays are fast approaching. With the first month of the Christmas season nearly over, that means Thanksgiving is almost here. It’s a time to appreciate what we have and think of those less fortunate. This is a popular time for donations to people who cannot afford to have a Thanksgiving celebration of their own.

On an overall level not necessarily connected to the holidays, retail mega-conglomerate Wal*Mart looked out and saw some of its own in need of a helping hand. They have set up The Associates in Critical Need Trust to provide grants to employees who have fallen on hard times, such as through the death of a spouse or a natural disaster, to provide some relief when it’s needed most. But that’s a corporate undertaking, and sometimes the holidays demand a local touch.

One store in Ohio is making the news for its charity. As an example of a store-wide, rather than company-wide, initiative, it is running a food drive to provide help for those who can’t afford a Thanksgiving meal. The drive is to benefit Wal*Mart employees. The people being asked to help out are also Wal*Mart employees.

This photo was taken by an employee in the store's break room.

This photo was taken by an employee in the store’s break room.

This is all run by the store, which has apparently been doing this for years. The employees who make donations don’t even know who the donations are going to, as store management determines that on their own and delivers the food and gifts to the home personally.

As for The Associates in Critical Need Trust mentioned earlier, it’s a big deal. Wal*Mart claims to have provided over $80 million in grants since 2001 for employees dealing with hardship. That trust is funded by other employees.

That takes a lot of bins. (Just kidding! This is from the food drive.)

That takes a lot of bins. (Just kidding! This is from the food drive again. Which apparently takes a lot of bins.)

In both cases, the larger Wal*Mart organization recognizes a need among its employees who are suffering through terrible hardships, then puts the burden of helping those employees in the hands of other employees. After all, who better to know the tremendous needs of Wal*Mart employees than other Wal*Mart employees?

As a quick reminder, Wal*Mart is an organization worth billions upon billions of dollars. The employees are not. Several lawsuits have been filed against Wal*Mart for their low wages, and the company has long fought against attempts to unionize their employees. There have also been allegations that they provide terrible health care, and to as few employees as possible. These allegations also tend to be backed up by facts.

So, to recap, Wal*Mart recognizes employees who are in need, likely in part because of how little they provide their employees, and then ask other poorly compensated employees to take on the burden of helping them out.

As for the Thanksgiving food drive, that handout could be particularly disingenuous. When the managers go to deliver the food, they may then ask the employee to come in to work. Wal*Mart will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day to get a jump on the Christmas sales rush. The employees their coworkers sacrificed for so they could have a nice Thanksgiving dinner may not be there to enjoy it. There really is no such thing as a free meal. Hopefully, the joy of the shoppers who get to Wal*Mart as early as possible for Black Friday deals will make it all worth it.

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One thought on “The Spirit of Giving

  1. So … would one not suspect that each Wal-Mart throws out dozens of expiring food items every night? Or rather, instead of throwing it out they donate it to a local soup kitchen. So they have plenty of food but can’t just give the food to their employees because they would lose how much in charitable donation breaks? Right? The mind, it boggles.

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