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Give from the heart

Local efforts continued this week to raise money for relief efforts of the Biblical disaster in South Asia.

Father Fred Lindstrom, Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church notified the Advocate that Episcopal churches in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast was authorized by their bishop, the Rev. Philip M. Duncan, to raise funds.

These funds will be used for relief efforts to be used for Episcopal Relief and Development that is the church’s fund that supplies emergency aid for crises around the world.

This is the same organization which recently sent $5,000 to help needs in Butler County and the surrounding area following Hurricane Ivan’s scrape through the area.

&uot;This organization works directly through the bishops of the dioceses in the affected areas to be sure the money goes to the real needs,&uot; Lindstrom said.

&uot;ERD is funded by the Episcopal Church and therefore there is minimal overhead costs in the process.&uot;

The worldwide Anglican Communion of which the Episcopal Church in the United States is a member has dioceses everywhere in the world.

Thus, there are dioceses and bishops in this and other areas to respond when needs are identified.

&uot;I have called upon the always generous members of Saint Thomas of Greenville to be generous in their response and to send their contributions through our parish to Episcopal Relief and Development,&uot; he said.

&uot;I also have encouraged them to support other charities of their choice which help in such crises.&uot;

The Greenville Rotary Club also raised funds at its Thursday meeting to send to Rotary International to aid in relief efforts.

&uot;The Greenville Rotary Club will be donating a check for between $300 and $400 to the International Rotary Club to be used for tsunami relief efforts,&uot; Greenville Rotary Club President Gerry Adair said. &uot;International Rotary is known for the charity work they do throughout the world each year.&uot;

While locally, there is little to be worried about when giving your money to relief efforts, some less unsavory types are using the event to profit themselves.

With that in mind, Alabama Attorney General Troy King urged Alabamians to be cautious with their financial support for disaster victims.

&uot;Alabamians are a compassionate and generous people,&uot; he said. &uot;As always, they are rising to the occasion in this time of tragedy and need. Sadly, times such as these also attract those who will scam and scheme to steal these funds. Our people should give. They should be compassionate. But they should also be cautious. Any dollar they allow to be stolen is a dollar diverted from its destination, it is relief that will not arrive, and it is pain that will not be alleviated.&uot;

King suggests that contributors make sure they are dealing with charitable organizations they are familiar with, who have track records and histories that can easily be verified. Reputable and established relief organizations are more likely to be better equipped to assist victims faster and more effectively.

He offered some points of advice when giving:

N Do not give cash. Contribute by check or money order made payable to the relief organization of your choice.

N Be wary of telephone or Internet solicitations. Absolutely do not give solicitors any of your personal financial information such as credit card numbers or checking account numbers.

N Ask questions about how your contribution will be used and be concerned if there is any hesitation in the answer.

N Say no to high pressure appeals, especially those attempting to hurry you into making a contribution.

For more information on ways to give to legitimate organizations, log on to www.give.org.