FALSE: The Target Corporation does not contribute to veterans' causes.
FALSE: The Target Corporation is French-owned.
FALES: The Target Corporation provides corporate grants only for 'gay and lesbian causes'.
FALSE: The Target Corporation does not contribute to the U.S. Marines 'Toys for Tots' program.
FALSE: The Target Corporation does not allow reservists called to active duty to continue their health benefits.
As Strohther Martin's character wryly commented in Cool Hand Luke, "What we've got here is failure to communicate."
Dick Forrey, a member of the Indiana-based Howard County Vietnam Veterans organization, penned the above message in March 2002 after failing to secure a $100 sponsorship for a travelling Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall exhibit from his local Target store. Mr. Forrey was rebuffed, because Target does not give out cash donations through local stores; they donate money only at the corporate level, and only through grants to organizations falling within their defined general areas of giving:
We want to clearly and completely apologize for any misunderstanding regarding Target's support of the Vietnam Wall and our corporate giving program. Giving back to the communities where our stores are located is something we're proud to do. In fact, nationwide, Target Corporation gives more than $2 million a week to the communities in which we serve.
In March of 2002, a veteran approached one of our stores seeking a $100 donation for a display of the "moving wall" in his area. Target does support events in the communities in which our stores are located. While each store determines which events to sponsor, any contribution is limited and is made in the form of a gift card. The stores are not able to give cash contributions to any organization. Stores are also able to donate volunteer hours to community events and projects.
Our corporate giving program that does incorporate cash donations is handled through a process called grants. Unfortunately, the veteran and his organization were not provided the proper information to facilitate consideration of a grant from either the store or our corporate office. The initial response of the team member at the store and the reply from our corporate office are inconsistent with the respectful manner in which we want all of our guests to be treated. We are truly sorry for this oversight and the resulting confusion that has taken place.
We accept all applications for grants from January 1 to September 30 of each calendar year. Any guest can request a grants application brochure at their local store, called "Grant Guidelines." Veterans programs may be considered for grants if the subject matter falls into one of our three general areas of giving: education, arts and family violence prevention.
Guests can also access a grant application at our web site.
This is certain: Target appreciates the dedication and service of all our veterans. Thank you again for your interest.
Group Team Leader
Granted, Target deserves a small share of criticism for initially failing to explain their policies clearly to Mr. Forrey when he approached them, but the stance presented in the message quoted above — that a company which won't financially contribute to someone's pet project doesn't "support" whatever cause is being represented and should therefore be boycotted by all like-minded people — is a selfish one, and in this case a grossly unfair one. The Target Corporation donates a tremendous amount of money to charitable causes every year, and in both 2002 and 2003 they topped Forbes magazine's list of "America's Most Philanthropic Companies." Among the many organizations to which Target donates are veteran-related causes, including exhibits like the one for which Mr. Forrey was seeking a contribution:
In the Greater Cleveland area alone, Target has recently donated more than $95,000 to such worthwhile causes as the Museum of Art, the Rape Crisis Center, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Cleveland Reads literacy program.
The company has been no less generous toward veterans. Not only did Target contribute to the World War II Memorial and sponsor the 2003 tour of "The Wall that Heals" — the same exhibit for which Forrey was soliciting donations — but it also donated to the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association in New York, the Hays County veterans in Texas, and the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliaries in Michigan and California.
As the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) noted on their website:
Although there has been a resurgence of patriotism and support for our nation’s veterans, there have been various messages posted on the Internet that would lead people to believe that corporate America, specifically retail department stores, are falling short in supporting our nation's veterans.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars would like to remind all that the Internet culture weaves rumors and misinformation. Simply put, don't believe everything you read. For example, an e-mail message urging veterans to boycott Target has been circulating on the Internet because a solicitation request to support "The Moving Wall" was denied.
Target has a long-held corporate policy regarding donations. And in all fairness, Target contributes more than $2 million weekly to charitable causes and is one of the corporate sponsors for the 2003 tour of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund's "The Wall That Heals." "The Wall That Heals" is a traveling Vietnam Veterans memorial and museum that has a strong educational component for schools and serves to honor all our veterans.
Dick Forrey, the man who started the anti-Target brouhaha, has since admitted his mistake:
I made a mistake on this one, and I've learned a hard lesson — that's for sure. What started out as a message for the members in our organization has turned into a hate-type thing. I never wanted to start any national boycott. I just wish it would all stop.
Some people have used my words and perpetuated lies. It's sad that some of these people would use veterans as a way to push their own political views. I've sent out a retraction, and no one pays any attention.
Since the antiTarget message first began to circulate, several other claims have been tacked onto it by those seeking to make Target look bad: that Target responds to charitable requests by stating they only support 'gay and lesbian causes,' that Target is French-owned, and that Target does not contribute to the Toys for Tots program sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps, and that Target refused to allow reservist employees who had been activated to continue their health benefits:
Target's stated policy is that they provide grants at the corporate level for programs involving the arts, education, and family violence prevention, and donates at the local level to a variety of charitable causes. The line about Target's responding to inquiries by stating that they provide corporate grants only for 'gay and lesbian causes' is a falsity added to later versions of the message.
The Target Corporation (which now also includes the Mervyn's and Marshall Field's chains of department stores) is a publicly held U.S. firm which has been based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since it began as the Dayton Dry Goods Company in 1902. Target is not now, nor has it ever been, foreign-owned.
Although Target stores do not directly participate in the in-store collection of toys for the Toys for Tots charity sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps, the Target Corporation contributes to that charity by giving discounts to groups who buy toys for it, and through collecting toys at their chain of Marshall Field's stores, one of the National Corporate Sponsors of the Toys for Tots program.
Target Corporation has been recognized by the National Committee for Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve (ESGR) as an "Outstanding Employer" which has "gone above and beyond the requirements of the law in support of their National Guard and Reserve employees." Target employees who are activated for military service and were participating in optional dependent coverage at the time of their deployment are eligible to continue these benefits if they so choose. Target Corporation also allows any Target team member to continue benefits as provided by the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
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