Barrington veterans cancel poppy sale, blame supermarket

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A group of local veterans said that future scholarships to Barrington and East Providence students are in doubt after a local supermarket informed the veterans that they could not stay in the store’s foyer during a Memorial Day weekend fund-raising effort.
Bill Groves, the commander for the local VFW post, said management at the Barrington and Riverside Shaw’s Supermarkets had always allowed the members of the Thomas H. Mellow Jr. VFW Post 9742 to sell ‘Buddy Poppies’ from inside the stores’ foyers.
But that changed this year, said Mr. Groves.
He said the local veterans were told they would have to stay outside the exterior doors. That wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the stormy weather forecast, said Mr. Groves.
“I made a decision as post commander and a few other members agreed,” that the veterans would not sell the poppies outside the store, said Mr. Groves. A veteran in his mid-80s was scheduled to take the first shift at the Barrington Shaw’s, said Mr. Groves, and “I could not see him doing this for very long.
“Well, yes, I’m personally disappointed. I know other members of the post are too.”
One of the managers for the Barrington Shaw’s Supermarket said the VFW was more than welcome to hold its poppy sale at the market, but a company policy restricts opening the foyers for outside groups.
The manager — he asked that his name not be used — said the veterans were allowed to stand under an overhang near the entrance to the store. (Mr. Groves said much of the space under the overhang was filled with some of the store’s products.)
The store manager also said he felt it was unfair for the market to be criticized in this case — there was no decision to ban the veterans from the store and had the weather been nice, this discussion would not be taking place.
“We do so many things for this community,” he said, noting the numerous donations the store makes to local food banks. “We support charities all the time, the schools, local groups.”
Barrington and Riverside Shaw’s Supermarkets have recently given out free food at events including the Barrington Little League opening day ceremony and at a Barrington Public Safety event.
“So long as it’s in our budget, we try to help,” he said, adding that there was no effort to ban the veterans from the property, only to relocate them to a different spot.
Mike Tripp, a member of the local VFW post, recently wrote a letter to the editor criticizing the decision to move the veterans group outside the foyer.
He said that the 2012 poppy sale raised $3,535.65, and that $2,000 goes to graduating senior students of Barrington High School and East Providence Senior High School. He added that the VFW post also gives awards to the winners of the Post’s Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests and pays for the dinner costs for their parents which amounted to $332.
“A donation to the local troop of Boy Scouts was $100 and Christmas gifts to the residents and patients of the Veterans’ Home and Veterans’ Hospital amounted to over $600,” he wrote. “Oh yeah, and the post spent $220 on 2,000 “Buddy Poppies” which will be gathering dust somewhere!
“Sadly, none of these donations will occur over the course the next year.”

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6 Comments

  1. Stephen said:

    Like the manager said ,” there was no effort to ban the veterans from the property, only to relocate them to a different spot.” I dont see the issue here. We should honor veterans everyday so they are saying they have to wait for next year? Why not this Saturday, it is is clear and 77 outside. That is the part i don’t understand of this, cant’ be on another day? Company policy changed this year, we should be thankful that Shaws even allows this.Everywhere you go “NO Soliciting”. The manager is just following the rules of the company that has put in place. I think that day was very bad weather, I wouldn’t of had them stand outside, I would of had them set it up for another day.
    I go to Shaws in a blue moon and the times i have been i never seen anyone in the foyers, it has always been outside. Now Stop and Shop i have seen people in side selling Girl Scout cookies, maybe try that place out instead.

  2. DAVETAXPREP said:

    Hey Steve, think your comment is somewhat rude, if the rule changed, were the veterans advised of this, or was this a last minute decision? Selling poppies is associated with Memorial day, so I don’t think the response would have been the same on another day. Understanding there are liability issues these days were years ago, this was not an issue. I also believe there is no Stop & Shop in Barrington. Basically I see this as a lack of communication between Shaws and the Post. I hope this is corrected so the Veterans can continue next year.

  3. Jenn Whitford Palumbo said:

    Shaw’s is permanently off my list of places to shop now. I truly hate living in such a liberal controlled state. Those demented people who have been given the right to remain vile and ignorant thanks to the troops many sacrifices, could care less about giving back/supporting them for all that they have done.

  4. josduv123 said:

    Shaw’s had a point about not setting up in the foyer….I am tired of being bombarded each time I enter/exit a supermarket. But the veterans? I wish they were out there every week. I would buy a poppy and wear it continuously! And Girl Scout cookies…another group I wish was out there more often! Don’t ever shoo away the Salvation Army and the donation bucket.
    There is a definite problem with all the JUNK that Shaw’s puts outside, plus the inconsiderate children on their skateboards and mini bicycles…it was probably impossible to find a spot for the veterans. We barely have enough room to push a cart. And the foyer is so crammed full of JUNK that they think if they shove in our faces at first approach, we are more likely to buy. Shaws please read this a scale it back!

  5. onward73 said:

    I think there would be plenty of support for the poppy sales if the VFW decide to hold their fund raiser on a future date, especially given the attention that this has drawn. Perhaps Shaw’s would even be willing, given the circumstances, to post a notice about a future poppy sale on their facebook page.

    I do not understand the claim regarding the ‘liberal controlled’ powers that be having anything to do with this or exactly who you are characterizing as demented, vile, or ignorant. Shaw’s management? Given Shaw’s community involvement and outreach, they do not appear to be demented, ignorant, or vile. Since it is Shaw’s company policy not to allow any group to solicit in their foyers, they are neither being discriminatory nor showing favoritism. It might be helpful for Shaw’s corporate spokesperson to comment on the rationale behind this policy; I am willing to bet there is a good reason for it that has nothing to do with pushing the liberal agenda.

    Taking into consideration that inclement weather may be a factor, I think a better approach by vets would be to not be so inflexible that they could not reschedule their fundraisers if need be. If not, perhaps they could staff the event with a mix of younger and more senior vets, so that the old-timers would not be over-burdened if the weather got bad. They could even enlist some non-vet volunteers from local schools or youth groups to give these gentlemen breaks as needed.

    The best thing may be to consider this simply a lesson learned to improve planning for the future and reschedule the fund raiser for the near future (the week prior to Independence Day would be ideal since there would be a lot of patriotically-minded traffic passing through Shaw’s). The worse thing would be to incite animosity between VFW and Shaw’s; both do good for the community and it would be unfortunate to see an end to this partnership.

  6. DAVETAXPREP said:

    ONWARD73 – you make some very good points, seeing that the Post makes donations to Barrington HS, maybe somebody should contact the HS and see if some of the students would be interested in helping out. I believe most students have to perform community svc for graduation requirements. This would be a great opportunity to serve the community and get some hours in for Community svc, and give our 80yoa vets a break. They are the last of a good breed.

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