Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Youth Group Unwelcome at Wal-Mart

This is a true story. Last Saturday evening our youth groups had a lock in at the church. One of the activities for the night was a shopping trip to the all-night Wal-Mart where the kids were going to spend money they raised to buy items for "care packages" for soldiers in Iraq.

A few days before the event, our Youth Director stopped at the store and asked to speak to the manager to inform them about the plans. The manager wouldn't talk to him, so he spoke to the Customer Service desk and asked the clerk to inform the manager that early Sunday he planned to bring about 50 teenagers, along with several adult sponsors, for the shopping trip and explained their purpose.

The group arrived at the store about 2 am. No sooner had they begun walking to the store from the parking lot when the police arrived and stopped the group. Apparently the manager on duty was alarmed by the size and age of the group--even though a number of adults were with them. The adults explained their purpose and the police left.

Once inside the store, the kids divided into groups for the shopping trip. Each group was accompanied by an adult. As they shopped the manager kept making announcements over the PA system accusing them of not behaving. When the Youth Director and one of the fathers asked to speak to him to find out what he was objecting to, he refused to meet with them.

The kids filled their shopping carts and lined up to check out. The manager refused to open an additional check-out lane, so it took nearly an hour to complete the process. At this point the adults considered leaving but decided that would only hurt the clerks who would have to re-stock all the items in the baskets.

Total spent at Wal-Mart for soldiers' care packages = $1000. Total Goodwill earned by Wal-Mart = 0. Letters of complaint are on the way to Bentonville.

Where did all this happen? An upscale suburb. Ethnicity of the kids and adults involved? They're Presbyterians, so most of them are Anglo. Conclusion? Teenagers in a group are scary, even when they are part of a church group. What a message to our youth!


John said...

They're Presbyterians...

Maybe the manager was Arminian?

Seriously, though, there's no excuse.

I worked the night shift at a Wal-Mart for four summers, and we would have welcomed the group.

SpookyRach said...

How totally bizzare! For additional outlets of complaint, try (Also good for positive feedback as well!)

Songbird said...

This is a really shocking story. I'm sorry for the kids. Given it was for the troops, I'm surprised Wal-Mart didn't roll out the red (and white and blue) carpet!

will spotts said...

I wonder what that was about.

(Sadly) I'm not surprised at the reaction to that large a group of kids. I am surprised the manager wouldn't talk to the organizers of this event.

Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks for the comments--I'm passing them on to our Youth Director. He will appreciate the support.

Mary Beth said...

I used to be youth group director at an Episcopal Church in College Station, and we were officially recognized by the local police as a gang. Apparently they defined "gang" as any group of teenagers larger than 3. How's that for crazy!