Sunday, November 25, 2007

Speaking of Donations...

Questionable Solicitors at the West Side Market

Speaking of where to donate your charitable dollars...I am all for second chances, but should a guy convicted multiple times for theft be the representative to ask for money for St. Jude's Hospital? The Grapevine vendors are complaining about a guy standing behind the West Side Market asking for donations for St. Jude's Hospital. He did this last year, and this year was given a license by the City of Cleveland Parks Department. His name is Steve, and he has a long history of questionable activities with charities including NEOCH, the Salvation Army, St. Augustine with multiple arrests and convictions for theft, grand theft, receiving stolen property, passing bad checks, unauthorized use of a credit card, and more between 1990 and 2000.

I am a big supporter of the Second Chance Act, and reintegrating those coming out of incarceration back into society, but there are some jobs that may not be appropriate. I mean, it takes a great deal of trust to put cash into a person's hand and expect it to get to the charity. Just as I would not hire Jim Bakker or Winona Ryder as cashiers, Steve may not be the best person to ask for cash for St. Jude's Hospital. St. Jude's feels bad that they sent all the material to Steve, and we now know that the City does not do a background check on the people requesting a permit for soliciting charitable dollars. Steve told St. Jude's that he was raising dollars by conducting a craft fair, but instead is asking for money while standing behind the West Side Market. Last year, he gave the charity $800 and also stood behind the Market asking for money during the holidays. Now, I am sure that the Salvation Army can raise more than $800 a day behind the West Side Market, but certainly they could do it in two days. Otherwise, it would not be worth paying those guys $7 per hour to ring the bell all day in the cold. Steve pulled a permit for an entire week.

Shoppers beware of who you give your money to. This includes panhandlers, bell ringers, charity solicitors, and Grapevine vendors. The badged vendors of the Grapevine are a good bet. Make sure that you get a paper or call us at NEOCH. If they are rude or inappropriate in any way, let us know and we can yank their badge. The red kettle of the Salvation Army is a good bet. Those guys have a code of conduct, a permit, and their is local oversight. You might want to avoid Steve, the convicted felon, "raising" money for St. Jude's Hospital. Your choice-you decide.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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