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Giant limits days, hours charitable groups can raise funds in front of stores

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By Nathan Rott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 7:10 PM

Shoppers will hear less bell-jingling, clinking change and holiday cheer outside grocery stores this winter.

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A new policy by the Giant Foods chain will limit the number of days and hours charitable groups such as the Salvation Army can raise funds in front of their stores.

The move has left officials with the D.C. Salvation Army, which kicked off its annual Red Kettle fundraising drive Friday, worried.

"We're very concerned," said Maj. Steve Morris, the Salvation Army's area commander.

Of the $1.3 million in loose change, cash and checks collected at red kettles last holiday season, about $667,000 came from outside Giant stores in the greater Washington area, Morris said.

That's a little less than half of the group's holiday total.

To collect that much, bell ringers were typically stationed for up to 10 hours outside stores for a combined 35 days in November and December, Morris said.

The new guidelines allow Salvation Army collectors to be in front of Giant stores only 12 days during those months, and limit their ringing to four hours a day.

"We're giving them six days in November and six days in December," said Giant spokesman Jamie Miller, which is more than any other nonprofit group will get under the new policy. Other groups will not get more than two days a month, he said.

The change was made, Miller said, because Giant has a long-standing policy of allowing only one nonprofit fundraiser outside its stores at a time.

By making the change, "we're providing better access to the other nonprofit groups while supporting the Salvation Army's efforts," he said.

The fact that some shoppers simply don't like being asked to donate money was part of the consideration too, he said.

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