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Aid and comfort

Issue: "Tsunami," Jan. 15, 2005

American now lead the way in delivering aid to the tsunami victims of the Southeast Asia. That means American donors may also be the most likely to fall victim to disaster-relief scams.

In the wake of tragedy, wellmeaning givers often "react emotionally instead of taking a step back and asking themselves, 'How can I help the most?'" said Rusty Leonard, head of the charity watchdog Wall Watchers.

On its website (ministrywatch.org), Wall Watchers warns would-be donors to steer clear of highly emotional fundraising appeals.

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The tsunamis' unprecedented death toll, as well as the grinding, televised suffering of millions of victims makes that difficult, but "think through your decision and do not act by impulse," the group counsels.

Donors should beware of telephone solicitations (sham groups often swindle by phone, using names that closely mimic those of reputable charities), ask for tax-deductible receipts, send checks instead of cash, and send money only to direct-aid groups-not to those that take their own bite from relief money before redistributing it to other charities.

It's not only swindlers who can knock the wind from disaster-relief sails:

"There's sometimes a greater risk from well-meaning folks than from scams," Mr. Leonard said. "People who have supported a ministry in Sri Lanka, for example, may have heard of the great need there and try to do something on their own," such as gathering and sending blankets, food, or other material donations. "The gathering part may be easy," he said. "It's the actual distribution that's difficult in a situation like this." Do-gooders would do better to send donations - better yet, money - to established international relief groups that have distribution infrastructure in place, who speak the languages, and know the local customs, Mr. Leonard said: "That's the most effective way to help right now."

At the same time, longtime local relief and ministry groups with existing networks and good reputations are in position to move aid quickly. For that reason, WORLD includes several local groups among the following list of organizations.
Campus Crusade for Christ
ccci.org
Tidal Wave Relief
100 Lake Hart Dr.
Dept. 4200
Orlando, FL 32832
1-714-568-1023
Childcare Int'l
childcare-intl.org
715 W. Orchard Dr., Suite 7
Bellingham, WA 98225
1-800-553-2328
Christian Aid Ministries
christianaid.org
P.O. Box 9037
Charlottesville, VA 22906
1-800-977-5650
Compassion Int'l
compassion.com
Colorado Springs, CO 80997
1-800-336-7676
Food for the Hungry
fh.org
1224 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85034-1102
1-800-2-HUNGERS
Gospel for Asia
gfa.org
1800 Golden Trail Ct.
Carrollton, TX 75010
1-800-946-2742
Hindustan Bible Inst.
hbi.gospelcom.net
P.O. Box 584
Forest, VA 24551
1-877-HBI-India
Interchurch Medical Assistance
interchurch.org
P.O. Box 429
New Windsor, MD 21776
1-877-241-7952
International Aid
gospelcom.net/ia
17011 W. Hickory
Spring Lake, MI 49456
1-800-251-2502
International Mission Board (Southern Baptist)
imb.org
Asia Earthquake Disaster Relief
P.O. Box 6767
Richmond, VA 23230
1-800-999-3113
Jubilee Campaign
(supporting aid work for the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)
jubileecampaign.org
9689-C Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22031
1-877-654-4331
Kids for the Kingdom
kidsforthekingdom.org
P.O. Box 85
Graton, CA 95444
Phone 1-800-214-2005
MAP Int'l
map.org
P.O. Box 215000
Brunswick, GA 31521-5000
1-800-225-8550
Mission of Mercy
missionofmercy.org
P.O. Box 62600
Colorado Springs, CO 80962
1-800-864-0200
Mission to the World (PCA)
mtw.org
P.O. Box 116284
Atlanta, GA 30368-6284
1-866-373-6133
Northwest Medical Teams
nwmedicalteams.org
P.O. Box 10
Portland, OR 97207-0010
1-800-959-HEAL
Operation Blessing Int'l
ob.org
977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach, VA 23463
1-800-730-2537
PIONEERS
pioneers.org
10123 William Carey Drive
Orlando, FL 32832
1-800-755-7284
Salvation Army
salvationarmyusa.org
615 Slaters Lane
P.O. Box 269
Alexandria, VA 22313
Phone temporarily disconnected
Samaritan's Purse
samaritanspurse.org
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
1-800-567-8183
Shelter for Life
shelter.org
P.O. Box 1306
Oshkosh, WI 54903-1306
1-888-426-7979
Water Missions Int'l
watermissions.org
"Challenge Grant"
P.O. Box 31258
Charleston, SC 29417
1-843-769-7395
World Emergency Relief
wer-us.org
P.O. Box 131570
Carlsbad, CA 92013
1-888-HUG-4-KID
World Help
worldhelp.net
P.O. Box 501
Forest, VA 24551
1-800-541-6691
World Relief
wr.org
7 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
1-443-451-1900
World Vision
worldvision.org
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716
1-888-511-6598

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