The Hanover Food Coojp’su “Pennies for Change” program. Wait. Is it offensive to some? (Image from Coop website:

Making People Uncomfortable in the Upper Valley?

Submitted 3 months ago
Created by
Dave Celone

My Co-op Check-out Experience Today

There I was, minding my business today in the Hanover Coop checkout line in White River Junction. The air conditioning was great. All was swell with the world. Why I’d even found my wife’s favorite Greek yogurt on sale for about 30% off — a nice surprise. Then the question came my way.

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After taking my Coop member number and ringing up my items, the cashier asked me if I’d like to round up my total amount to the next dollar as a donation to the Coop’s “Pennies for Change” program. It would have been closer to a dollar than not, so I hesitated for just a moment.

A laudable program, but might it embarrass some to be asked to donate? (Image above from Coop website:

That brief moment was all the time the person behind me in line needed to say something like, “It’s so awful that they ask us that question.”

I looked at her and smiled. I told the cashier I wouldn’t participate. The person behind me wasn’t going to let go. 

She asked me and the cashier, “I mean, really, don’t you feel awkward being asked a question to make a donation?” She went on, “Not that I have a problem with the program, but the public aspect of having to answer that question makes me uncomfortable.”

And on she went, “And think of the people who can’t afford to give. These pennies add up fast. Those poor souls must be embarrassed to answer.”

Then in a final breath she exclaimed, “This is a form of public shaming, don’t you think?” I’d packed up my groceries and looked up at the woman behind me and said, “I’ll give it some thought, but you do make a strong case.”

I think that pleased her. The cashier and I exchanged glances, then I headed out into the summer sun.

All great causes to be sure. Many fine Upper Valley organizations benefit. Can technology be used to ask Coop customers for donations in a less public way? (Image above from Coop website: (Image above from Coop website:

So, what do you think? Are you in favor of, or opposed to being asked for a donation by your grocery store cashier in the check-out line when others can overhear your reply? Does it make you uncomfortable? It’s really not a big deal for me one way or the other, and the causes my pennies will help are important to me, but today’s check-out line experience made me think deeply about how others might feel when faced with a very public inquiry about making a gift to a non-profit. Please weigh in with your comments below.


Dave Celone writes for the under the moniker Poetic Licence. Tune into his posts (for free!) by Clicking Here or by visiting this link:  

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