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Wells Fargo donates $50,000 to Toys for Tots, including $10,000 to West Pasco group

Wells Fargo Bank, which recently drew criticism after barring Toys for Tots collection boxes from its local branches, has made a $50,000 donation to the national charity.

Of that amount, $10,000 will go to West Pasco Toys for Tots.

"We understand there was an unfortunate situation down there, and what (Wells Fargo) asked us to do was if we would ensure" some of the money went to West Pasco, said retired Maj. Bill Grein, vice president of the Toys for Tots Foundation based in Quantico, Va.

The rest of the money would go to other Toys for Tots programs around the country.

The "situation" Grein referred to was West Pasco Toys for Tots coordinator John Durkin's sharp criticism of the bank and its CEO after Wells Fargo asked that boxes be removed. Wachovia banks had allowed the collection boxes before their merger with Wells Fargo.

"The donation continues a long history of support from Wells Fargo, which has contributed $850,000, and hundreds of employee volunteer hours, to Toys for Tots since 2000," bank officials said in a news release.

Tim Hanlon, head of the Wells Fargo Foundation, said Toys for Tots "continues to be an important resource for families grappling with hard choices. Wells Fargo is proud to continue its support for Toys for Tots, and to provide holiday cheer to children who deserve the simple joy of a new toy."

Durkin could not be reached Wednesday.

He said last week that he supported businesses' right to make decisions about charitable giving. His frustration, he said, was rooted in the fact that Wells Fargo had accepted taxpayer bailout money and that the company's CEO took home $17.5 million in compensation.

He also expressed concern that TD Bank, which did not accept any government bailouts, had also asked that the boxes be removed.

TD has since donated toys to the agency.

Wells Fargo officials last week said the boxes weren't allowed because of the company's no-solicitation policy. They also pointed out that the bank has given more than $200 million to nonprofits over the past few years.

Grein said Durkin's outburst wasn't the first and probably won't be the last.

"Having been around Marines for 20 years I know these are overachievers; these are very zealous people who believe in what they're doing. It's not unusual the last couple of weeks before Christmas to get a call from someone saying (a volunteer) lost his temper."

Grein said Wells Fargo's gift would be welcome both nationally and locally.

"I looked at (Durkin's) program for the past couple of years and thought that (Wells Fargo) donation would make a tremendous impact."

Grein said he also understands companies have to draw the line on what groups they support and how they support them.

"In this politically correct world, if you support one charity, some other undesirable group might use that to try to break in," he said. "We've been thrown out of some great places."

Wells Fargo donates $50,000 to Toys for Tots, including $10,000 to West Pasco group 12/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 8:15pm]
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