The folks behind Toys for Tots in west Pasco are discovering Scrooge has corporate rules to follow. As Times staff writer Lisa Buie detailed, two banks, TD and Wells Fargo, are enforcing no-solicitation rules this holiday season and that means toy collection boxes for the Toys for Tots operation in west Pasco are verboten in the banks' branches.
The charity previously put donation boxes inside the banks when the branches belonged to Mercantile and Wachovia. Both of those banks are now part of larger operations with different rules for soliciting and both forbid the charity from keeping boxes in their offices.
The policy conjures up images of uncaring banker Henry F. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life, but Wells Fargo points to its $1.4 million in charitable contributions to the region and TD bank officials agreed to meet with the charity today to try to reach an accord with Toys for Tots.
The corporate giving and the willingness to hear the charity's concerns are laudable, but requiring the boxes to be removed from the branches smacks of heavy-handedness at a time of year most known for goodwill toward others.
Consider: A year ago, Toys for Tots delivered 23,500 toys to more than 7,500 children in west Pasco and Tarpon Springs. More than 80 other sites in west Pasco, including grocery stores, car dealerships, public schools, civic groups, neighborhood associations, toys stores and discount chains, accept the unwrapped gifts to be given to the needy. In east Pasco, there are more than 100 drop-off locations, including the Times office in Wesley Chapel.
Likewise, the U.S. Postal Service will pick up unwrapped toys from home mailboxes Saturday in its annual letter-carriers drive.
As recent decisions by other banks have shown, public opinion does sway corporate policy.
Think of Bank of America's ill-fated plan to charge a monthly fee for debit card use as an example. Customers unhappy with the no solicitation policy shouldn't be shy about sharing their sentiments with their neighborhood bank branches.
At least one Wells Fargo branch in San Antonio bucks the corporate trend and allows a donation box in its office. It's commendable community-minded thinking and others should follow suit. Otherwise, they are destined to the realistic sentiment offered by Bob Loring, head of the East Pasco Toys for Tots:
"If they don't want to help us,'' Loring said, "we consider it their loss.''