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Where Do You Give Your Money?

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Questions raised about 5013c

First up on the agenda is a brief report on the Annual Veterans Yard Sale held the first weekend in August. This two day event raised approximately $7,200 to be used to support local veterans in need. Michael Harmelin, Senior Vice-Commander VFW Post 2453 (Sandpoint), shared with me a very lengthy list of volunteers and supporters who helped make this a very successful fund raiser. Of all the many volunteers who helped Michael nominated Erzsebet Cloud as being especially helpful. Erzebet gave unstintingly of her time and energy throughout the set-up and sale. This community should be proud to have people like Erzebet in it. 

Recently I’ve heard rumblings that all the money raised here is not staying here. I’ve been told that a 501c3 out of Coeur d’Alene named the Guardian Foundation has convinced some donors that they are worthy of receiving a slice of the pie. I’m looking into the bona fides of this organization for many reasons.

I’m leery of some 501c3’s based on past experience. Some years back I learned about an organization operating in Southern California that was raising scads of money ostensibly for paralyzed veterans. The only problem was that somewhere around 85 percent of all the monies raised went to administrative costs. A big chunk of those administrative costs went into the pockets of the CEO and treasurer, who just happened to be husband and wife. Between them they received over $1.3 million per year for their ‘charitable activities.’ I haven’t seen any mailing from that organization for a few years now. Maybe they are serving time for fraud. One can but hope.

As a result of that experience I am very suspicious of ANY 501c3 whose administrative costs nears or exceeds 50 percent of donations received. In the current environment most Americans are bending over backwards to support veterans – mostly because of rampant guilt (IMHO). This leaves the field rife with scam artists who prey on the gullible and guilt-ridden. All this leads me to believe that the phrase caveat emptor - buyer beware - is better used when making donations to ‘charitable’ organizations than some other places.

Lastly, the 2014 election is coming up fast. I’m asking everyone – veterans or not – to become informed voters and vote in your own best interests. Veterans especially should look at the party they support. The GOP has toted itself as strong supporters of a ‘strong defense.” I’ve looked at their track record and I find it wanting when it comes to veterans. None of Idaho’s federal elected officials have ever enthusiastically supported veterans. Two of them – Senator Risch and Representative Labrador - have consistently done their best to stop or reduce funding for veterans benefits. 

Voters have some very big decisions to make. I encourage everyone to become informed voters. We must stop simply voting for a party and look closely at the individual candidate. Above all else, vote in your own best interests.

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

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