Lately I’ve noticed lots of articles about Christmas Charity Scams. Fraudsters take advantage of people’s generosity during the holiday season by posing as charitable organizations or individuals in need. Realize that they just want your money! Think instead about organizations that actually will use your tax-deductible donations.
What should we watch for? Be cautious if you receive unsolicited emails, phone calls, social media contacts, or other messages from unknown charities. Legitimate organizations usually don’t reach out to individuals unless you already have a relationship with them and have given before.
Scammers may use high-pressure tactics to get you to donate quickly without giving you time to think. Be skeptical of urgent requests and take the time to research and verify before making any donations. Use the website charitynavigator.org if you aren’t familiar with an organization and want to know more.
There are some red flags to watch for: the charity refuses to provide detailed information about its mission, goals, and how donations are used. Be wary if they are unable to provide proof of their nonprofit status.
Be careful if you are checking on an organization using their website. Scammers often create fake websites that mimic those of reputable organizations. Check the contact information provided by the charity. Legitimate organizations will have a physical address, phone number, and email address. Verify this information independently rather than relying solely on the details provided by the potential scammer or their website.
Think instead about national or international organizations that support the same causes you are interested in. They might help people who are refugees, who live in poverty, who suffer from illnesses or disabilities, or who have to relocate due to climate change.
Many of us choose to keep our December donations local. There are several local charities who are serving the people in need in our area. Where can you give in Box Butte County so your funds are serving our neighbors and your dollars are being spent in our community?
United Way coordinates programs all year. At Christmastime, they are responsible for organizing Christmas food baskets. Donations of non-perishable, non-expired food items are welcome and can be dropped off at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 2090 Emerson, In Alliance. Monetary donations may be made through your church, via the Santa Bucks program at Safeway, or mailed to United Way, P.O. Box 617, Alliance, NE 69301. Please note food baskets in the memo line. Contact your church or United Way for more information.
The Salvation Army collects most of its donations in December. Drop your donations in the red kettles at Raben’s Market or Raben’s Liquor, Bomgaars, Grocery Kart, Carter’s, J&J Pitstop, or Git ‘n Split. Red kettle donations help people through grocery, prescription, utility, motel, and medical gas voucher assistance, as well as emergency services and stranded motorist assistance. These funds serve residents of Box Butte County. You can also drop off donations at First National Bank (FNBO) or give online at registertoring.com.
Food assistance is provided through more than the United Way food baskets. You could make donations to Community Table, the Backpack Program, the Head Start Backpack Program, Northwest Community Action Partnership Extra Helpings Food Pantry, or Hemingford Ministerial Association Food Pantry. Call me at 308-762-2363 and leave a message if you need specific address information for any of these.
Many other organizations in Box Butte County would love to receive your donations. These include 501c3 nonprofits, foundations, and area churches. It is the season to be sharing, to be giving. But not the season to be scammed.