WILMINGTON -- A New Hanover County man who was recently laid off from his job is upset over how he was treated when he went to a local charity to buy a Christmas tree for his family. Not only did he leave empty handed, he says he felt insulted. It's been a rough few weeks for David Shepherd and his family. He lost his job as a painter and has barely had enough money to feed his wife and three girls, much less buy them a Christmas tree. So he went to the Goodwill Community Foundation hoping to find a deal. Shepherd said, "I explained to her that I had X amount of dollars to purchase this tree, but I did not have enough for what they were asking for this tree Before I could even get finished, she cut me off and said, 'Well we don't do that, that's against our policy.'" Shepherd said he only had $15, half the amount he needed to purchase the $30 tree. While he was willing to spend all he had, he said the GCF employee wouldn't negotiate and even told him anyone could come up with a sob story around the holidays. "It just upset me because she just blatantly cut me off, and more or less called me a liar." Shepherd said he was humiliated, and his youngest daughter left the store in tears. "I had to try to explain to her why we couldn't get a tree, and it's hard to explain to a five-year-old that daddy don't have enough money." Good Community Foundation Director Stephen Snyderman says he regrets the situation wasn't handled more tactfully, but says GCF doesn't negotiate on price. "The manager or any employee doesn't have the authority to lower the price upon request, that wouldn't be fair to the other customers, it's not a negotiation process," Snyderman said. Snyderman says GCF uses the money it makes in the thrift store to provide jobs and training to people with disabilities or other employment obstacles. While he regrets GCF wasn't able to help the Shephards, he says it is helping train 174 students in New Hanover County make a better life for themselves. Snyderman said, "Sometimes we're confused with the Salvation Army and other organizations that do provide disaster relief for emergencies and other personal services, and that's not our mission." While GCF can't help this particular family our managers here at NewsChannel 3 have agreed to purchase the Shephards a Christmas tree. We hope to meet up with them a little later this week to go tree shopping.
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