Marine John Harkness has collected donations for Toys for Tots for 14 years. The Walmart in Medina, Ohio has allowed him to stand inside, between the exterior set of doors and interior set of doors, to help him stay a little warmer despite the cold.
This year, however, a new store manager told the 69-year-old Harkness he could only stand outside.
“She said ‘You have to stay outside. You can’t come in the store.’ We weren’t allowed in between the two sets of doors. We have to be outside,” Harkness told ABC6.
“Well, it was raining, it was cold, but we stood there. I was at one door, my wife was at the other door,” he added to News Net.
A passerby saw Harkness outside and posted a picture along with the manager’s photo, name, and phone number on Facebook.
Reaction to the post was swift, but the Harkness couple doesn’t want people being mean to the manager and her family.
“I don’t feel that’s necessary. I think that’s totally out of line. I would like them to really stop harassing the family,” Lynn Harkness said.
John Harkness emphasized that he and his wife will continue to collect donations even though they can’t be inside.
It also seems like the new manager was just following corporate policy, something the previous store manager–and some others across the country–have ignored.
Walmart added: “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 4500 stores does not allow this type of solicitation inside our stores and we apologize for any confusion about this policy.”