A Walmart corporate representative said issues with Toys for Tots drop boxes at an eastern Pennsylvania location were based on policy, while three stores in our region are listed as drop-off locations.

“We respect the valuable service that Toys for Tots provides within the community,” the company said in a statement issued in the wake of a story in the Wednesday edition of the Pottsville Republican Herald about the removal of drop-off boxes from the company’s Saint Clair location. “In this instance, we let Toys for Tots know that we’re freeing up space in our vestibule and removing things like collection bins, unmanned collection boxes and tables. We offered them different options that would have allowed us to continue working with the organization, including a fill the truck event in the store’s parking lot or donation, but they declined.”

According to a representative of Walmart, the decision is in line with general company policy regarding third party activities being limited to outside of the actual store. He cited Salvation Army bell ringing and Girl Scout cookie sales as examples.

He said in-store activities can cause safety concerns and, in the case of drop-off boxes, can enable theft from the charities they intend to help.

“Walmart will be supporting Saint Clair this holiday season by hosting the Salvation Army Bell Ringers and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program at our store,” the official corporate statement read. “We are not ruling out the possibility of working with other organizations’ programs, including Toys for Tots, in the future.”

Locally, both the Clearfield and DuBois Walmart locations are listed by the Clearfield County branch of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, a part of the Marine Corp League, as program toy drop-off sites.

The Ebensburg-based branch covering Jefferson County says the Punxsutawney Walmart will also continue to serve as a Toys for Tots drop-off site.

Elk County is listed as currently “not covered” by the program.

Attempts to obtain direct comment from local Toys for Tots program coordinators were unsuccessful.

More information on the Toys for Tots program can be obtained on the program’s official website at www.toysfortots.org.

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