Veteran forced to sell poppies in rain outside PA Walmart

Posted at 2:54 AM, May 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-07 02:54:36-04

DICKSON CITY, PA (WNEP/CNN) – A Pennsylvania Walmart is now offering a canopy for veterans raising money near the store after a safety policy meant a 69-year-old veteran was left sitting in the rain.

Vietnam veteran Manuel Griffin set up a table Friday to sell poppies outside a Dickson City, PA, Walmart. The money was to go to honor and assist other veterans, according to the man’s wife, Maryann Griffin.

But Manuel Griffin was made to sit outside in the rain and not in the covered area of the store. His wife took to Facebook to vent her frustrations at the Walmart.

“Way to go WALMART....commendable way to treat our veterans who fought for your freedom.....Disgrace!” she wrote.

Thousands shared the picture, with many threatening to take their business elsewhere.

“Haven't been to Wal-Mart in 6 months so now a much better reason not to go ever go back. Thank you Veterans,” one commenter wrote.

A manager from Walmart said the store had implemented a safety policy about two years ago, and those collecting money had to be 15 feet from the doorway.

Shoppers said they felt there should be an alternative for the 69-year-old veteran.

"How you could make a gentleman who fought for our country and risked his life for our freedom sit in the rain when he's trying to sell something to remember those who went before him...” said shopper Beth Bonacci.

Manuel Griffin’s friend David Ragan talked to the store manager and was able to come to an agreement that would give veterans a cover in inclement weather.

One day later, the veteran was out again – this time in the sun – collecting donations for service members.

"He is going to do what he has to do for his VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars organization], and he wants to make sure he is representing them the same way we did when we wore the uniform,” Ragan said.

On Sunday, Manuel Griffin was at the store again, this time with a canopy over him.

Copyright 2018 WNEP, Maryann Griffin/Facebook via CNN. All rights reserved. Raycom News Network contributed to this report.