It was easy to spot Cheryl Tuck-Smith on the median at the entrance to Target off 20th Street—she was the only one with antlers. Over the past six years Tuck-Smith and her family have rung the Salvation Army bell and here in the late afternoon on the day after Thanksgiving they’d been braving the elements since 9 that morning. Tuck-Smith offered her yule tide thoughts on generosity, The Salvation Army and Target’s no-solicitation policy.
Have you been getting a lot of positive response?
We have. People have been really positive. This morning, when it was raining, we thought people might not roll down their windows, but they did.
What did you do to fend off the rain?
We wore rain gear and just dressed warm. The kids were out here with us and who really gets good response are the children. People just love to see the kids and they call them over and we go with them to the car and they collect the money.
Have you had to compete with any homeless people out here?
One homeless lady came for awhile and we told her we wouldn’t be here tomorrow. So, she was very nice and it worked out just fine.
I know last year you had problems doing it outside of Target. Is it still an issue?
That’s still a problem, which is why we’re still here. Target won’t let us ring at their stores, so we come here and the people are really positive. In fact, somebody said today that we made it really convenient to give because it’s like drive-by giving.
Has hurricane relief affected the amount of money people donate?
We think it has. And we’ll find out, of course, by the end of the season. One of the things we notice is people who tend to give us money drive average vehicles. The people that are in the fancy cars don’t give as much money.
Is that so?
Isn’t that interesting? That’s been our experience the last two years. It’s fascinating.
Why do you think that is?
I have no idea. I think the average people tend to be more generous givers. Or maybe the others are afraid to open their car windows.
How much money do you normally bring in on an average year?
About $1,200, just what we do. And The Salvation Army on its own, between $50,000 and $60,000. And, of course, The Salvation Army buys the food and the toys for people.