Giving back

Published 1:42 am Saturday, November 26, 2011

Teresa Hines rings a bell for the Salvation Army on Friday morning at Wal-Mart in Washington. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

As shoppers pushed their way into big-box retailers, grasping for discounted items, Teresa Hines calmly rang her bell for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign.
“I like it because it goes to a worthy cause,” Hines said, greeting customers with a low-key smile in front of Washington’s Wal-Mart on Friday morning.
“They look forward to this every year so they can give back,” she said of passersby, who plopped change and small bills into the nearby kettle.
Hines rang in the day in front of a building that, 14 hours earlier, had been crammed with bargain-seekers.
At 10 p.m. Thursday, the Wal-Mart parking lot was loaded with vehicles that spilled over to the Golden Corral restaurant just off Carolina Avenue.
Spare shopping carts were in short supply, and some hearty souls followed fellow Wal-Marters to their cars in search of the sought-after metal baskets on wheels.
By 1 p.m. Friday, officers with the Washington Police Department had responded to five incidents, three at Wal-Mart and two at Belk, said Chief Mick Reed.
“All of them were just minor disputes, but could be related to Black Friday,” said Reed, adding that no arrests were made in any of the incidents.
More than a few holidaymakers, enjoying their days off work, avoided the crowds by staying home, posting and sharing stories of Black Friday horrors from other communities on Facebook and various social-networking sites.
But Gary Ceres was out early — not to join in the spending frenzy, but to take advantage of it.
Ceres is co-owner of I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store on Washington’s Main Street.
He chose the busiest shopping day of the year to start keeping regular hours at his new shop, The General’s Store, “a basic provisions store” stocked with groceries and novelties, next to the Turnage Theater on West Main.
The store officially opened Wednesday.
“We’ve got some decent expectations for the weekend,” Ceres said. “We’re hoping people stay local and shop local as well, kick the season off right. Everybody knows we need some really strong sales down here to keep the downtown going.”
Back at Wal-Mart, Hines was focusing on her task.
The temporary employee was busy ringing into the afternoon, helping to ensure people in need would have a merry Christmas.
“It gets tiring at times, but it’s worth it,” she said. “It pays off in the end.”
Contributing Editor Mike Voss contributed to this story.