Mayfield Heights teacher says Target turned away $2,000 charity shopping trip
Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 2:33 PM
MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Mayfield Middle School's annual charity shopping trip to buy diapers, clothing and toiletries for Providence House nursery will go on as planned this year. The only question is what store they'll go to.
For the past five years, some 25 student council members have raised about $2,000 a year to spend at the Mayfield Heights Target store for Providence House's wish list of urgently needed supplies.
But when Mayfield Middle School teacher Sandra Bean called the store about going there this Friday, and asked about using a dedicated checkout line to ring up their purchases, she said she was told by a store employee named Shelly that the students were not welcome, because there were not enough cashiers to accommodate them.
Bean took her outrage online, posting "An Open Letter to Target's Mayfield Heights Store" on her Facebook page Monday night. Hundreds of people reposted her letter on their Facebook pages, linked to it on Twitter and blogged about it.
"I have no desire to take my money, the [student] council's money, or anyone's money to this store ever again," Bean fumed in her letter, which was removed from Facebook Tuesday afternoon. "We plan to go to another store, and continue to go to another store for as long as this project exists."
Late Tuesday, Bean said the school district has not decided what to do about the trip.
"We [the school district] are still trying to rectify everything [with] Target, and plan to speak with them in the morning," Bean said in an email.
Target store Manager Jason DuVall said he hadn't read Bean's letter but was looking forward to having the students at his store.
"Target is committed to supporting our communities and providing a great guest experience in our stores," said Target corporate spokeswoman Sarah Van Nevel, adding the store manager has been in touch with Bean to address her concerns.
"We apologize for the poor experience the guest had and look forward to welcoming her and the students later in the week," Van Nevel said.
Neither DuVall nor Van Nevel would discuss Shelly or her role at the store. Bean said she was told that Shelly was the manager on duty when she called on Monday.
Bean said the shopping experience teaches the students about giving to the less fortunate and not expecting anything in return. The students also learn how to budget their money.
She said the money they spend is in a single credit account and therefore a dedicated register is necessary to ring up the students' purchases. The checkout process at Target takes about 30 minutes, despite the group's size.
Bean's story has attracted a lot of attention.
"I am also thinking a protest in front of the store might be in order," wrote an indignant sympathizer on Facebook. "I am ready to mobilize. I am on fire!!"
"Another reason to boycott Target?" a Twitter poster asked, referring to Nebraska worker's online petition protesting Target's decision to open at midnight on Thanksgiving.
Natalie Leek-Nelson, chief executive and president of Providence House, said Bean and her students are providing much-needed supplies for an agency that cares for 150 to 200 children a year, newborns to age 6.
"The kids raise all the money and buy the items off our wish list, load it onto a school bus and literally fill an entire school bus, and sometimes two," she said. "They're amazing."