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Vet families get a serving of hope for holidays

One News Now, November 23, 2007, Ed Thomas wrote,

Retail giant Wal-Mart has made a substantial donation to "Fisher Houses" on 36 U.S. military installations and VA medical centers in order to help provide a brighter Christmas for military families.

Fisher Houses provide a place for family members to stay free-of-charge so they can be close to service members who are hospitalized. Wal-Mart spokesperson Shannon Frederick says a $350,000 gift from the corporation will fund decorations for the Fisher Houses and gifts for families staying in them. The corporation also donated $100,000 for a new facility to be built at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. "So we're rolling out 'Operation: Deck The Walls,'" explains the retailer's spokeswoman. "It's a multi-city program. We're providing gifts, monetary donations, and Christmas decor to the military families who are in these Fisher Houses during this holiday season," says Frederick.

Two-day events are scheduled for locations across the country. On the first day, Wal-Mart associates will decorate and give gifts to families, and facility managers will be brought to store locations on the second day in order to buy up to $5,000 of resources for their Fisher Houses. Frederick says they are doing this to honor the sacrifices of military members in all services, including those employee citizen soldiers from Wal-Mart.

Frederick says, "Supporting the military is very important to our company." She also notes that Wal-Mart currently has more than 3,000 associates on a military leave of absence.

According to USA Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, is giving Wal-Mart (WMT) a red "do not buy" rating in its new consumer guide, bestowing a lump of coal on the retail giant just in time for the holiday shopping season. Citing Wal-Mart's refusal to offer domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian workers, the HRC said Tuesday that the USA's biggest private employer has "more work to do in furthering equality." It advised gays and their supporters to shop elsewhere.

Wal-Mart rated a red 40 on a scale of 100, down from a yellow 65 in 2006. It was among 54 companies that scored 45 or lower in HRC's 2008 Corporate Equality index, which assigns ratings to 519 large companies. Also in the red: Toys R Us, RadioShack (RSH) and AutoZone (AZO).

Wal-Mart rival Target (TGT) rated a "green" 80, meaning that "consumers should make every effort to support these businesses."

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