(06/12/2001)
Building new roads to West Virginia Wal-Marts and paying for their infrastructure with taxpayer money, has not made the corporate giant amiable to helping underprivileged kids who need school clothes.

The $150 purchase, according to a DHS spokesperson, apparently causes too much of a problem in Wal-Mart check-out lines. Wal-Mart has declined to process the $150 back-to-school clothing vouchers this year, saying it is too time consuming, although they collected $3 million from the program last year.

Arley Bleigh, a DHHR spokesperson in Grantsville, said 180 people qualified for the voucher in Calhoun last year, representing 321 kids. "This represents an expenditure of $48,150," he said. Family Dollar and Dollar General Stores have accepted the vouchers, but lots of people in this area go to Gabriels to "stretch their money."

Fred Boothe, the commissioner of the state Bureau for Children and Families, told a legislative committee Sunday "To this point, Wal-Mart has refused to cooperate." Boothe said it could hurt the $8 million dollar program, since Wal-Mart is the only discount store in easy driving distance for many rural families.

No other participating stores have followed Wal-Marts lead.


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