Belk Bans Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Ringers

Belk in Smithfield is one of 300 Belk locations in 16 states that have prohibited The Salvation Army from placing Red Kettle bell ringers outside the store this year. The decision will cost the Smithfield Salvation Army over $10,800 this year. Photo

What happened to the spirit of Christmas?

Apparently the Grinch has taken the Christmas cheer away from Belk, who has banned The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign at all of their stores.

Red Kettles are no longer allowed at entrances to Belk, including the Belk on N. Brightleaf Boulevard in Smithfield.

Belk did not actually give The Salvation Army any money but allowed kettle bell ringers to be stationed outside their main entrances for customers to donate.

The Smithfield chapter of The Salvation Army depends on funds from the Red Kettle campaign not only for the holiday season but for programs all year.  The Salvation Army collected $10,822 from the Smithfield Belk location in 2016 and are expected to be down that much this season unless other Red Kettle sites receive higher than normal donations.

Shelley Henderson, Divisional Communication Director for The Salvation Army of North and South Carolina, said Belk has been a great partner over the years but the company redirected their charitable giving programs for this year.  “The organizations where we ring have policies that guide when and where we can ring. We hope to sit down with Belk early in 2018 to discuss partnering in the future,” Henderson told WTSB in an email on Wednesday.

Belk has about 300 stores in 16 states. The decision will cost The Salvation Army about $1 million this holiday season alone.

According to Belk, they never had a formal relationship with The Salvation Army and left it up to individual stores each holiday season to decide if the Red Kettle bell ringers would be allowed.

Instead, Belk aid they are focusing this year on a fundraising campaign for Habitat for Humanity called “Home for the Holiday.” The program will collect money from all Belk stores in 16 states to build a home for a needy family.  Belk is collecting donations for Habitat for Humanity through Dec. 16th.

“The Salvation Army is grateful for the support of Belk over the years and we hope to ring the bells there in the future,” said Major Kari Booth, commanding officer of The Salvation Army of Smithfield. “Many thanks to Belk customers who have faithfully donated to the Red Kettles. Every dollar dropped in the kettle opens the door for at-risk youth, provides food for empty bellies, and helps families stay safe and warm in their homes. We are thankful for you.”

If you would like to help The Salvation Army in Smithfield you can find their Red Kettle bell ringers outside local Wal-Mart stores, Lowes Foods in Clayton, Carlie C’s IGA stores, Big Lots in Selma and Carolina Premium Outlets on Industrial Park Drive.

Some believe the move by Belk is part of a trend among large corporations to avoid faith-based groups raising funds.

If you would like to donation to The Salvation Army this Christmas or to volunteer to be a Red Kettle bell ringer call 919-934-9641. Financial contributions can also be mailed to: The Salvation Army, 306 N. Brightleaf Boulevard, Smithfield, NC  27577.