Controversy is brewing in Medina, after a local Marine veteran was forced to stand outside of a Walmart this weekend as he collected money for Toys for Tots.
It was rainy and cold, but despite the weather, the store manager said he had to stand outside.
Now, people are outraged that he wasn’t allowed inside of the store.
When someone took a picture of the veteran and posted it to social media, the post went viral within hours. The post read, “He can bleed and die but not stand inside.”
The controversy started as a conversation between a Walmart store manager and a couple of veterans.
The vets were collecting money for Toys for Tots and the VFW. They said they asked to go inside, but the Walmart store manager said it’s against the company’s solicitation policy to allow them inside.
The vets were then asked to stay outside of the store.
The temperatures were in the low 40’s.
“Every business has their corporate policies, but every policy has an exception,” said John Harkness, who was collecting money for Toys for Tots. “And I think veterans standing outside, there should be made exceptions for them.”
“It was so cold that your knees don’t want to bend when you try to walk, and when you get home, even a hot shower doesn’t not warm you. It took wrapping up in an electric blanket to try and defrost that night,” said Lynn Harkness, Toys for Tots coordinator.
We spoke to the Walmart manager who says the vets were allowed in the store in past years due to a previous manager making that decision. She says she was just following the rules.
“The wind was just blasting me and I was freezing like crazy. I was even fortunate, a young lady bought me a blanket which was nice,” said U.S. Navy vet Dan Macik.
He also stood outside while collecting for his local VFW.
“All we wanted was to come inside and get out of the wind and cold, and our papers were just flying,” said Macik. “The thing that bothered us is that we do so much for the community and it was basically her decision.”
A Walmart spokesman sent Channel 3 a statement Sunday night:
“If a Marine or anyone was treated with disrespect, that is unacceptable and we are looking into this matter further to get the facts. Walmart’s corporate policy across our more than 4,500 stores does not allow this type of solicitation inside our stores and we apologize for any confusion about this policy. Most importantly, we are proud to support wonderful organizations like Toys for Tots, Girls and Boys Scouts, the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross who are stationed outside our stores during the holidays and other times. Finally, Walmart’s support of our men and women in uniform both during active service and when they return home is a privilege that we strive to honor each day through our commitment to hiring hundreds of thousands of Veterans as well as the many charitable Veteran organizations we are proud to support.”