Active duty Marine John Harkness has stood inside an Ohio Walmart for 15 Christmas seasons, collecting toys and money for Toys for Tots. This year, however, there was a big change.
According to local Ohio media outlet WISTV, Harkness was kicked out of the store.
Harkness said, “They made us stay outside. We’re there to collect toys for children that need a Christmas.”
Shopper Mary Murdock was outraged when she saw the veteran standing outside in the bitter cold. She said, “I just said, why can’t they put you inside? This is crap.”
Walmart told WISTV that Harkness was forced to stand outside because it’s their “policy.” In a statement, the store reportedly said:
“Walmart’s corporate policy across our more than 4500 stores does not allow this type of solicitation inside our stores and we apologize for any confusion about this policy.”
Murdock wasn’t satisfied with that response. She said, “It takes two seconds to do the right thing when it’s cold and rainy and holiday season. You can put them in there.”
Harkness still has not received an apology, but he is hopeful for a change and says thank you for the support he has received. Since this story broke, strangers in the area have brought him coffee and sandwiches while he stands outside of Walmart.
Harkness said, “It’s encouraging. It’s fantastic. It’s good to have the general public, Vets and non-vets support you.”
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