Friday, November 13, 2015

The Changing Face of Donations

Before going through the 2010 Nashville flood, I would always search for ways to help out financially after a disaster. Like everyone else, I donated to Red Cross after both 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. It made me feel good to feel like I was doing something to help.



After the summer of 2010, my view of charities changed forever. I saw that most of the money the public gave during relief concerts and such was never delivered to flood victims. Instead it was used to build an amphitheater and redo the waterfront area of downtown.



I also saw what the Red Cross does with all of its donation money. Pretty much this and only this:



The whole thing made me jaded but I still wanted to help. So for a while, when a Facebook friend posted about a friend/family member in need, I'd donate directly. That way I'd know the money would get to the person...right?



I'd send a gift card and never hear a word. Not that I'd expect someone going through a disaster to take five seconds to send a thank you email, but it just bothered me that the gift card could have easily gotten lost. I stopped donating altogether for a while because of it. Then this came along:



With GoFundMe, you can see that someone got the funds. They can even send a thank you email. If they're polite, they'll send a personal thank you, but they don't have to. The anxiety over whether it got lost in the mail is gone. Click and donate. The only problem is, some people have begun abusing the system.

People are crowdfunding weddings...




...vacations...



...and damaged relationships. (Huh?)



The result? We're all being given a reason to gossip about our friends and relatives. It also provides great entertainment as you browse the different crazy campaigns on there.



There are instances where many of these campaigns make sense, of course. If a bride and groom ask wedding attendees to donate to a honeymoon fund instead of buying gifts, it makes sense. If a person has a powerful story that goes with asking for help with things like vacations, prom dresses, and weddings, people can get behind that. But just asking friends and family for money because you want something?



Still, I celebrate GoFundMe. It gives me an option of helping people that doesn't require going through a charity. That is always a good thing!

(Also...seriously, guys. No matter what you're going through, if someone sends you $100 of his/her hard-earned money, take a few seconds to send a personal thank you. SERIOUSLY!)

Have you ever donated to a GoFundMe campaign?

54 comments:

  1. Actually, I have! A friend going through a tough time with mounting medical bills needed help. My wife and I gave him $200. I think GoFundMe makes it easier for people to ask for help when they need it.
    And yes, there are the crazy, dumb people out there just wanting a big screen television.
    Riverfront development? Really?

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    1. Yep. They tried to pretend nobody wanted it, but anyone I knew who called was told that money was only for low-income flood victims and everyone else only qualified for a low-interest loan, which would have to be paid back. Then they had all this money left over because, duh, people were paying the loans back with interest! Never again will I donate to any fund like that.

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  2. I haven't heard of GoFundMe but it sounds very much like Just Giving. There was outrage this year when the huge salaries charity bosses are receiving was made public. Some of them are on six figure salaries which are paid from donations given to that particular charity and I know quite a few people now who won't donate to charity because of this.

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    1. That happens all too often! But GoFundMe is a peer-to-peer donation tool. You post your campaign, invite your friends, and the money goes straight to you. I'm sure GoFundMe charges a fee and a CEO is making bank off of that...but at least you know your loved one is getting the money.

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  3. I joined a local women's group this year that does all hands-on charity work. Just put together Xmas stockings for a pregnancy crisis home and care bags for an abused women's shelter. I like the idea of giving items that can only be used directly by person in need instead of giving cash to an organization where you never know how the money will be used.

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    1. So true. There's a community group here in Nashville that goes around and does hands-on work like that. That's the type of organization to give money to. As for national organizations, the only group I saw that showed up was Samaritan's Purse. They were out there working hard. And churches...when something bad happens, local churches get together and go to the neighborhoods and help out.

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  4. I haven't donated to any GoFunMe projects, but I've donated money to Kickstarter projects. One thing I do for charities is donate my time instead. Nobody can spend it better than you! Each year, we do an annual pig roast for over 1000 people and collect toys as admission so that we can donate the toys to Toys For Tots and help deliver Christmas to our local chapter here in Tallahassee. We've been doing it for almost 10 years. It's a great feeling to donate time because people thank you in person and the time you spend is very rewarding!

    I've donated money to other online events such as the runs where people either join a team for cancer or other fatal diseases, somtimes I donate upwards of $500 only because I think it's great that someone would run an entire marathon for such a cause. It's great!

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    1. Volunteer work is the best thing you can do, for sure.

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  5. OMG idiots are paying to that wench to go to Vegas? What the what?

    Most of the money that was gathered for our flood victims here also didn't went to the right hands. We also had a case of two parents who raised about 2 million bucks for the operation of their lil daughter's heart in USA. The kid died, the operation cost 700,000 and they never said what happened with the rest of the money... and thus nobody now wants to donate to anything.... I'd sentence people who cheat with these donations to death because they cause great losses with other people in terrible need.

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    1. Yikes...is charity fraud a crime? It could be. People have started scamming using GoFundMe. Experts warn that you should never give unless you personally know the person. With social media, it can be easy for one of those fraudulent campaigns to get passed around and gather donations from strangers. Someone was fraudulently using someone else's picture of a cancer-stricken child to get money through there. I hate when that stuff happens because it means people will be less trusting when a legitimate campaign comes around.

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  6. I give generously but I never donate online or phone solicitations. I have my favourite charities that I donate to and have been on the receiving end when our barn collapsed, when we were flooded bad and we had to move all the cattle to another location. The Salvation Army were there to offer assistance with feeding the workers who worked in almost impossible conditions.

    Neighbours were help by the red Cross when their house burnt to the ground and they lost all their possessions except the clothes on their back. They were housed in a local motel paid by the Red Cross until they got a place to stay. They gave them food and clothing.
    I'm not on Facebook so I don't get tormented by such demands as Go Fund Me.

    But I'm not surprised that there are some big fraud going on. Where's there's greed and laziness, you'll find fraud.

    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. I guess Red Cross is good in small, isolated situations but they just can't handle widespread disasters like ours very well? The churches were the best. If you belong to a church, often if something bad happens, they'll help. I really wouldn't donate blindly to a GoFundMe. It's usually someone I know personally--and usually through someone telling me personally about it. I did donate to a writer friend's sister's campaign when her house burned down, but I knew that writer personally. I've seen some people launch campaigns who always want to pout about their lives without doing something about it. They just expect people to take care of them. So of course they need money for their surgery or whatever...but as soon as you donate, there will be something else they're throwing a pity party about a year later. I know that sounds unsympathetic, but I've known too many of those people in my life and they will bleed you dry.

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  7. Totally agree lady. This kind of crap pisses me off to no end.

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    1. People would be astonished to know how much corruption there is in donations and charitable organizations. It's an area that can easily be scammed. But CEOs for nonprofits that serve the needy shouldn't have six-figure salaries.

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  8. I've donated to a few. A high school friend and his wife were killed in a drunk driving accident (the other guy, not them) and left three children behind. That was the first I ever heard of it. And I donated to a friend fighting a difficult custody battle. I want to say I donated to one or two others, but I can't remember what they were.

    I'm not donating to save someone's relationship, though. I mean, are they splitting up because they're broke? WTH!

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    1. Yeah, I don't get that. Those are the extremes. Most of the time, that stuff is more subtle. It's someone you know who is posting yet another cry for help and you know the backstory. But someone coming into it not knowing would think this was just someone who was down on his/her luck. I'm all for helping people, but you have to be able to give someone a push and then they take it from there.

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  9. That's why I rarely ever give a thing. Same thing with the Goodwill and Salvation Army. They're suppose to be non-profits, but then you look at the things they spend their money on and how much the people on the top get paid.

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    1. People argue for Goodwill...but bottom line, they take your free donations and SELL the items for a profit. Oh sure, they provide inexpensive items to those who can't afford more...and they say they provide jobs to those who couldn't find them otherwise. Although when you actually shop in one, you don't see the people on the billboards. You see normal people who could get jobs elsewhere, so don't be thinking you're doing those people a favor, Goodwill. During the flood, a group up North gathered a truckload of items together and donated them to Goodwill to bring to Nashville. They brought it to the Goodwill here, which said on the news that it would be spreading the items out to all of its stores for sale. Really? Did the people donating the clothes mean for you to sell them, Goodwill?

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  10. I've donated to a few; a friend with cancer and needed money for medical expenses; two I didn't know the people directly but both were for children who had died in accidents and they were raising money for funerals. I don't think I would give money for a vacation (unless there were circumstances like someone was terminal). When I give to other places, I always ask how much percentage of the money actually goes to help people and how much for administrative costs. If they don't know or if it is a low amount that actually goes to help, they don't get my money.

    betty

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    1. I mention below the case of businesses asking if you want to add $1 to your purchase to help kids with cancer or the doggie Olympics or whatnot. I always wonder if the money gets to them. One thing Pet Supermarket does is ask if you'd like to buy a box of dog treats to give to a local shelter. They actually physically set the box aside when you pay. Somehow that means much more than just adding a few bucks onto the total would.

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  11. There is always abuse of good things and mishandling of charity funds. I try to give to charity that are trusted or to give direct to the needy person or family.

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    1. Yes, that's what I was trying...it works best if you know the person, though. Apparently just giving to the relative or friend of someone you know is a bad idea, since they never let you know it got there!

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  12. There are some good charities out there, and there are other ways, besides donating money, that we can help. For example, the Salvation Army has thrift stores. We can go and purchase items at these stores that we need, such as clothing, toys and books. It has a dual purpose...it helps us, because we are purchasing something we need at a discount price, and it helps them to continue their work. I like Julia's comment, because the Red Cross and the Salvation Army do good work, and they are there to help others when the need arises. I don't donate online and I am very careful and selective about whom I donate to.

    However, as I mentioned, there are other ways we can help besides giving money, we can shop at the charity stores. If we see a homeless person on the street we can purchase a cup of coffee for them or bring them a sandwich.

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    1. I personally didn't find that to be the case with Red Cross, but they appear to be better at handling individual crises. All they brought to our neighborhood was bottled water. Salvation Army did set up centers around the area for temporary shelter and they gave out clothing, as well. I would donate to Salvation Army before Goodwill--although I usually just drop clothes in one of those bins that have charity names on them. I need to look into whether those clothes are actually being given to someone and not sold.

      I will say I'm very glad so many businesses are now partnering with charities and asking every customer if they'd like to donate a dollar to this or that. I HOPE the money actually helps people. (Although history tells us only a fraction probably does.) It does get exhausting, however. Places like Publix are always supporting someone, so it's rare you can shop there without being asked if you'd like to donate money to help x, y, or z.

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  13. I once worked for a "charitable" organization as an accountant that was a tentacle of United Way and when I found out how bad my supervisor took advantage of the millions sent us that was supposed to go to help health organizations and I quit. Then later I volunteered for the Red Cross and found out the same thing and quit donating to charities altogether. I now only donate to those I know feed the homeless in our city. Most of the large "charity" organizations spend way too much on "supervisors" and not near as much on those who truly need it. I've never checked out GoFundMe but will take a look. Great eyeopening article Stephanie.

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    1. There was an issue with the Nashville Red Cross...they didn't come to our neighborhood. When my mom called to ask why, the person who answered said that they were afraid to come to our neighborhood because they heard there were a bunch of "angry Mexicans" there. Not sure what that meant...we had a diverse neighborhood, but most of the people who were angry the Red Cross hadn't come were Americans! They showed up after my mom's call but they came through during the day and it was three weeks after the event. Everyone had gone back to work and was working on rebuilding their homes on nights and weekends. All they found were construction crews. They didn't leave notes and didn't let people even know they'd stopped by--we just heard about it later. Before we moved, my neighbor said they called to ask her to donate blood and she said, "I KNOW you aren't asking for something from me." The woman asked what the problem was and my neighbor unloaded on them...said she donated blood every year until they mistreated us during the flood. So our experience may have been an isolated one, but I donated a lot of money to the Red Cross over the years and now I wish I could have put that money toward someone who actually helps without discrimination.

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  14. Stephanie, I'm so glad you wrote about this and exposed some of the flaws in these things. I never know whether to trust the thing or not. I, too, want to help, but not when it's some sort of scam. How do you tell the difference?

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    1. I personally found that religious organizations were the best. A group called Samaritan's Purse sends people the day a disaster happens. They bring cleaning supplies and get in there and really work. Churches were the BEST. They came through our neighborhood every day, bringing food and water. The day we had to clean everything out so it wouldn't mold, there were church groups all over our neighborhood, pulling out drywall and carpeting, removing personal belongings, moving furniture--all of it. So, personally, I feel that if you're going to give, give to your church. If you want to help someone in an area that flooded (like Charleston), a group like Samaritan's Purse or maybe even a local church in an affected area might be a great way to direct your help.

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  15. I learned lot ago about charities. I have my own charities. It works for me and 100% of my money goes where I want it to go. Excellent.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  16. I stopped all my auto paycheck deductions for charities after the 2010 flood debacle. I didn't need any help personally, but I quickly learned that the people who did need it didn't get it. Never again. Red Cross should be ashamed about what they do with donations. Now I donate personally. I haven't tried Go Fund Me. I'm very suspicious of giving to anything or anyone if I don't have personal knowledge about their specific situation. All I can say is "Donator Beware"!

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  17. The sad thing is that many people who use Gofundme may be using it for legit reasons but they will not get the same media time as the a-hole who wants a vacation in Vegas. I hope Gofundme would review and prevent people from asking for help for this plus I hope the average person could simply not donate their money to someone who just wants a vacation. It is one thing to give money to a dying person who has never seen the ocean than to someone who wants to party. I have never donated to big charities because I knew the people who needed it would never get it. What's funny about the Red Cross is that when my dad was wounded in WW2, hhis dad was told he had died! My dad was laying there with a bullet close to his chest recovering, needed a letter written, an extra blanket and his face shaved. When the Red Cross came they were going to charge him so much for the letter, a shave an a blanket! My father in law had the same experience!! The Salvation Army came and without saying a word, shaved him, gave him a blanket and wrote the letter to his dad. I always give to the Salvation Army at Christmas and I do buy a toy for a child. My bank has names and ages up of boys and girls who need a toy for Christmas

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  18. With Children In Need happening here on our tvs tonight this is a very apt post. Preferring to support small, local charities myself, for various reasons I've become more and more cynical about some of our large charities.

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  19. I have donated to a Gofundme. I feel like you about worthy charities and I did think Red Cross was a good one.

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    1. Oh sorry it's the Salvation Army that I heard was worthy. My friend also told me to donate directly to the charity as opposed to these miscellaneous $1 donations to like Walmart and others where that company gets the collected tax credit on the donation.

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  20. I'd never heard of GoFundMe before. Some of the things you listed are so funny! I donate items to the local charities and I'm a member of KIVA. But my favourite way to help is through volunteering. You feel more involved and you can see how you make a difference.

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  21. I have donated through GoFundMe. And have and do contribute in other ways too. Including volunteering. Sadly, worrying about how the money is used, and concern about the organisation 'skimming' or misusing the money, and the fact that so many people are going through tough times means that many charities, and the people they help out, miss out. Never an easy question.

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  22. This is the first of heard of GoFundMe. But like you I liked to give to charities until I discovered the pitfalls!!! I support my local food banks and city mission and hospitals in the area. Big time charities, I stay away from now. Mainly because I've learned a lot of the funds to the corporate administrators or something like that. Around Christmas we get tons of charities asking for money. So know what I do? I send each one a prayer...

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  23. I admit I've seen some pretty crazy things on Go Fund Me and it's turned me off from it. I'm sure there are legitimate causes to donate to there though.

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  24. I try to be so careful with donations . . . so sad that people would take advantage when there are so many who could really use our help. I do like GoFundMe but dislike the stupid requests like the Vegas flight. I do have to say, though, some make me laugh out loud at the shamelessness lol

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  25. 'kay...just picked my naive jaw up off the floor after reading about charities to fund vakays and relationships, and riverfront development.

    I'm not sure if it was GoFundMe, but when my friend's daughter needed a surgery that insurance didn't cover, she set something up on line for the donations. And that woman with a very sick child, a ranch to run, and four of her sister's kids left with her unexpectedly still managed to send hundreds of thank you cards. That peeves me, too, when people can't say thank you, even after the dust settles.

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  26. My sister-in-law had one of those for her MS treatment. Which, if she ever answers the interview questions I sent her, will be a blog post for me in the near (maybe) future. It's good news. GoFundMe worked for her.

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  27. I've donated to several GoFundMe campaigns. Sometimes I think I'd like to have a campaign to pay for me to visit England, because going there is my big dream that I'm afraid will never happen. It seems too selfish for me to do that, though, when some people need funding because they'll ill or they need money for education.

    Love,
    Janie (who is still tempted, but won't do it)

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  28. I do donate to such pages, but only when I'm sure I know where the money is going. Sadly, scamsters abound. It is very hard to raise funds for genuine cause precisely for this reason.

    Sorry to leave a link, Blogger won't allow my wordpress comment:
    Daily (w)rite

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  29. I donated to GofundMe a couple of times. I don't remember the first one, but the second one was for a funeral of a young person. It's hard to believe that some people have the nerve to set up a campaign for something like going on a vacation. How can anyone donate to that?

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  30. I'm very suspicious of places like this. Have never donated to them or to the phone calls I get. And sometimes the person calling has been very rude, like that will get them anything. I also get scads of mail, since I have donated to some of them. It's too much though. Now I mostly donate to my church. We give to local charities and people in need. That way, I hope, the people that need the donation get it, not some scam artist.

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  31. Growing up I had an Uncle who used to always tell me NOT to donate to the Red Cross. He had served in WWII and claimed the Red Cross used to sell the donuts to the soldiers not give them away! As for GoFundMe I have donated twice -- both times to families trying to adopt and both of then DID say thank you! As well they should!

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  32. I've never donated to Go Fund Me... I might, but it would need to be for something out of the ordinary, like someone's house burning down or something, or a unique business plan. I agree, I've seen some sketchy things on there. One person I knew did a Go Fund Me to buy a new purebred dog after neglecting the first one and getting it taken away from her. So yeah, a lot of ridiculous ones, though some are legit.

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  33. I haven't seen that one. Good for you for caring, Steph.
    A lot of our donations go to animal charities. I know, big surprise. grin.

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  34. I have donated to two Go Fund Me campaigns, both for people I knew. I do like the idea that we know the money went where we wanted it to go and that it was received. It is sad to think about all the money that gets donated that doesn't go where it is supposed to and the good intentions aren't carried through.

    I am curious about some of the Go Fund Me campaigns that are out there now that you mentioned the ones above. I will have to check it out sometime. :)

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  35. I haven't donated to a GoFundMe, though I agree with you that some of the stuff that goes up on there is ridiculous. >_< I do support a favorite website of mine on Patreon, though, which is more of a monthly donation thing. Completely worth it to me to help keep the place going.

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  36. I have to agree, I was disillusioned by fund raising a long time ago. It sickens me that so many people send in money to support a great need, only to find out only a portion is sent in to the organization. I admit, I've gotten very jaded as well. Even people coming up to me on the street asking for a hand out, a quarter anything, I pause. Are they really using the money for food? I make it a point to refuse if the person is smoking or smells of alcohol. But generally, I don't carry cash on me anyway, so I can rarely help out even if I want to. I like your way of thinking, make sure you give the person in need, the funds personally or use the gofundme if you are truly aware there is a need and the service is not being abused. I've never even been to that site. I believe I've heard of it in the past, but have never checked it out.

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  37. I've donated a few times when friends have been struggling. I'm glad you said that about the Red Cross, because in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks, I considered donating to them. I still don't know the best charity to choose when it comes to supporting people who have suffered a crisis like that.

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  38. I used GoFundMe two Christmases ago so that I could raise money to volunteer with a non-profit in Honduras. I wouldn't have been able to make the trip if it hadn't been for friends and family contributing. And a few people told me that they wouldn't have been able to volunteer like that themselves, so they appreciated being able to help me to go. But so many of the things people use it for are just embarrassing.

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  39. Wow! Didn't know you could do all that with this fund! You're always a wealth of info! I've donated once to a friend, who also happened to be a fellow veteran who was having severe financial difficulty. His son actually got it started. he is a friend, and I knew he and his wife were struggling, so we had to pitch in. Despite his plight, it never would have occurred to him to ask for help on his own. I'm with you - a simple thanks is FREE. I send cards to peeps a lot, because I have little funds, and I'm always surprised to never hear anything back. Still, I believe in being kind whenever I can because it just makes me take my mind off me. (lol) Hugs...Ro

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