Walmart, Marine vet to work out plan going forward - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Walmart, Marine vet to work out plan going forward

For nearly 15 years, Former Active Duty Marine John Harkness said he's been allowed by the Medina Walmart to stand inside and collect toys and money for Toys for Tots, but this week there was a change (Source: Facebook) For nearly 15 years, Former Active Duty Marine John Harkness said he's been allowed by the Medina Walmart to stand inside and collect toys and money for Toys for Tots, but this week there was a change (Source: Facebook)
MEDINA, OH (WOIO) -

The manager of the Medina Walmart store and the company's marketing manager met with Marine veteran John Harkness and his wife on the heels of a social media firestorm.

Harkness says he has been allowed to stand inside the Medina store and collect toy and money for the Toys for Tots campaign, but this year, he says the new store manager sent him out into the cold.

"They made us stay outside," said Harkness. "We're there to collect toys for children that need a Christmas."

Shoppers were outraged to see the former active duty Marine outside and let their frustrations be known.

"I just said, why can't they put you inside? This is crap," said shopper Mary Murdock.

Initially, Walmart released this statement:

"Walmart's corporate policy across our more than 4500 stores does not allow this type of solicitation inside our stores and we apologize for any confusion about this policy."

After much backlash, all sides came together Monday, deciding to work together next year and come up with a plan.

A Walmart spokesman said that next year, the company will work with Toys for Tots to come up with a solution, such as providing a tent for cover and whatever else they can do to help while staying within policy.

Harkness is thankful for all the support he has seen. Strangers have brought him coffee, sandwiches, and even just offered their support.

"It's encouraging. It's fantastic. It's good to have the general public, vets and non-vets support you," Harkness said.

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