What you can do for your community

Day 86–Sept. 27 (rest in New Castle, PA, 0.0 miles)

I will admit right now: I am not a fan of Wal-Mart. I disagree with many of its business practices from discrimination against women and the low wages it pays employees to its union-busting activities and editing of books, CDs and DVDs for content it deems objectionable.

But I was willing to give the store the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to ask those running the Wal-Mart in New Castle, Pa.: what do you do for your community?

So with that in mind I entered the store on Route 224 in New Castle. I asked to speak to a manager to find out how this Wal-Mart was being a good neighbor. But I was told there was no manager on duty and instead could only talk to an employee in customer service named Rebecca. She said they did a number of things to benefit the community but could not give me specific details. Most of the community service seemed to be focused on the environment. Among the things she mentioned were planting trees, roadside cleanups and a composting bin to be located in the store. She also mentioned that any bags of dry pet food that were opened were donated to a local animal shelter. A start I suppose.

I was a bit disappointed that the store was not doing more–perhaps it is and I did not get the right person to tell me the details. And I admit that I am targeting Wal-Mart as one of the largest, most visible businesses in town. But I am glad the store is doing something, no matter how small, to benefit the city. It is my hope that residents will look around town and realize that if they want a thriving community they cannot wait for someone else to come in and wave a magic wand. Everyone has a role to play. So ask yourself: What can I do for my community?

– By Jennifer E. Cooper