Doubtful Donations

From the Christian Information Service Center to the Red Cross to the Hope Center of North Lufkin, it's not uncommon for East Texas agencies to lend a hand to folks down on their luck.

HOPE Center director, Linda Pendland, said, "We just want the community to give whatever they can give to help these people, because in times of disaster, America has always responded favorably to help everybody."

The HOPE Center fed dozens of Louisiana evacuees Monday, thanks to donations, but before you give to any organization, make sure you are giving to a real charity, and get proof.

Lufkin police lieutenant, Greg Denman, said, "For phone call solicitations, you really need to know more about the group - proof of who's doing this thing. You really shouldn't donate to anything over the phone unless you really know the person calling or the group calling."

And know exactly who is getting your money.

"You have some groups that hire solicitation companies and that solicitation company might make 30 to 50 percent of the money that they draw in, so your money is not going to that organization - not all of it - it's going to pay this solicitation company," said Lt. Denman.

Finally, beware of lookalike organizations. What you see isn't always what you get.

Lt. Denman said, "You can get a group that might claim to be something, and they might use an acronym and their initials would be the same as a well-known organization, so you need to be real careful about who this group is."

This advice can save you time and money, and help make sure your donations go to real families during a real crisis.

The HOPE Center always needs volunteers to help distribute items to local families. Right now, the center needs water and diapers.

You can also drop off donations to Hurricane Katrina victims at Goodwill Industries, The Home Depot, and the Lufkin Mall.