As the holiday season beckons, local charities and non-profit organizations are counting on the generosity of area residents to allow them to provide vital services to the needy.
The United Way of Southeast Arkansas is well into its Fall 2012 Campaign that will benefit 26 area partner agencies including the Area Agency on Aging, Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County and Jenkins Memorial Center.
Leslie Dorn, administrative services coordinator with the United Way, said that fundraising efforts are looking good so far.
“The campaign goal is $1,280,000 and we are over 25 percent of the way there,” Dorn said. “There are a total of 150 businesses in Jefferson County taking part in the campaign.”
“All of our divisions are working and we are getting very positive results,” Dorn said. “Everything has been real positive. Evergreen [Packaging] is finishing up their campaign this week and they are one of our largest participating businesses. Others are working to give their employees the opportunity to become contributors to the campaign.”
Dorn said that the campaign typically wraps up by January or early February.
Capt. David Robinson with the Salvation Army in Pine Bluff said that his agency is in need of several types of assistance.
“Our thrift store is doing better than it has but we could still use more donations,” Robinson said. “When the thrift store is doing well we have more donations we can put out for sale and the more money we make the more money we have to help people in need.”
Robinson said that the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving appeal is down almost $2,500 from last year.
“We are also really hurting for canned goods to stock our emergency food pantry,” Robinson said. “We usually have schools and companies doing canned food drives for us but we haven’t heard from many this year. We went almost a whole year without having to spend a huge amount of money on food so we will take all of the canned good donations we can get.”
Robinson said the agency needs all types of canned goods, including vegetables like corn, green beans, and mixed vegetables; fruit like peaches and pears; soups; and canned meats like Spam.
The donations will be accepted at the Salvation Army’s headquarters at 501 E. 12th Ave. weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“We are also accepting turkeys, hams and whole chickens to put in our Christmas food boxes for families on the Angel Tree,” Robinson said. “We appreciate everybody’s help.”
The website of the Arkansas Attorney General’s office offers several tips for people to follow to make sure that the charity they give to is legitimate.
- Be an Informed Giver. Ask questions before you give. Give only when you feel comfortable that your donation will support an organization and activities in which you believe. Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate charities won’t rush you to donate.
- Ask for written information. A legitimate charity will send you information before you donate. Ask for information on the organization’s mission, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
- Call the charity. To avoid falling victim to sham solicitors, contact the charity directly before giving a donation by email, to the person knocking at your front door, or to the telephone solicitor.
- Never give or pledge in response to a telephone solicitation until you have independently checked on the charity, or you know the caller on a first-name basis.
- Watch out for similar sounding names. Scam artists often try to take advantage of names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate charities.
- Don’t send cash. For your security and tax records, make your donation by check or credit card.
- Be wary of a group that offers to pick up your monetary donation. A legitimate charity will have an official address where you can mail your donation. Be wary if an organization thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making and offers to send someone to pick up your donation.
- Scrutinize fundraising appeals for police, firefighters, and veterans. Solicitations on behalf of these types of causes often draw favorable responses from donors. Because of this, scam artists often use the word “police” or “firefighter,” even when the donations will not be used to support such causes.
Search the Arkansas Charities Database. In addition, the Charities Division of the Consumer Protection Division can provide information about the purpose of a charity, the amount of money a charity has raised in the past, the percentage of money collected that is used for charitable program services, the percentage that is used for administrative costs, and whether the charity employs the services of a professional fundraiser.