Following the Tsunami Relief Money Trail - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/4/05

Following the Tsunami Relief Money Trail

You may recall, after the attacks of September 11th, some charitable organizations were criticized for the way they handled donations meant for victim's and their families. As a result, the Red Cross changed plans to use hundreds of millions of dollars for something other than direct assistance to 9-11 victims. Now, in wake of the tsunami disaster, NewsChannel 11 wanted to make sure charities have learned from past mistakes. We tracked down where each dollar donated on the South Plains during the From Lubbock With Love Tsunami Relief Campaign ended up.

When asked how they keep track of such a large amount of money, Major Ernest Branscum with Lubbock's Salvation Army says, "It's easy for us because we're not trying to make any percent that stays locally." Greg Bruce Chairman of the Board with the South Plains Chapter of the Red Cross, says "It all goes, the only portion that might be retained were administrative fees." David Fish, General Manager of Breedlove Dehydrated Foods says, "Money in that account is designated just for tsunami relief."

They are three different charities who contributed to one cause. Together Lubbock's Salvation Army,  the Red Cross and non-profit Breedlove Dehydrated Foods took in $993,534, almost a million dollars for tsunami relief. Their totals come from a combination of direct donations and telethon funds split between the three. But did that money make it to the regions that so desperately need it? Major Branscum says, "I can tell you penny for penny, everything that came in through us, we have a check that went right straight to our headquarters."

As of April 6th, Lubbock's Salvation Army reported they raised a total of $170,635. Major Branscum opened up his chapter's record keeping and showed NewsChannel 11 proof they had forwarded From Lubbock with Love funds and smaller donations to their regional headquarters in Dallas. Regional headquarters in turn sent the money on to national headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. A phone call to Alexandria confirmed every penny did in fact make it to them.  Branscum says, "It's marvelous how much money we were able to raise right here in this community."

As of March 11th, the South Plains Chapter of the Red Cross had raised $241,064. $163 were retained for credit card processing fees, making the grand total sent to relief funds $240,901. Greg Bruce says, "It was immediately transmitted to the Red Cross in Washington D.C. My concern and the concern of our board was that the money get into the hands of the people in Southeast Asia as quickly as possible."

Red Cross headquarters confirms they've received $240,665 from our local chapter.  That's more than $200 less than the chapter reports, but national headquarters says recent transfers may not be included in their total.

Breedlove Dehydrated Foods received thousands from charities purchasing food, but they reeled in a whopping $581,834 worth of donations. David Fish says, "We will use that as we provide ongoing relief in the rebuilding effort over in those areas.  The money will stay local.  We're not shipping money over there, we're shipping food that took money to produce."

As of April 20th, Breedlove still had close to $509,000 tsunami relief dollars in reserve. They've only spent $38,164 on donated food which NewsChannel 11 confirmed did reach it's destination.  They've spent $37,500 on ready inventory.  Fish says, "Right now, our cost to generate one serving of food runs righ at 4 cents or a little less than 4 cents per serving.  The gas bill and all the expenses that are associated with manufacturing or producing that food are what this money will cover."

Salvation Army headquarters had raised $20 million as of last month. $12.8 million of that has been designated for specific rehab and medical projects. The American Red Cross has created a special section of it's website so that you may track how it's spending disaster relief funds.

Red Cross Tsunami Relief Effort
Click here for a direct link to the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Effort page.

The From Lubbock with Love campaign claimed to raise more than $1 million.  The totals in this story are just short of that.  That's because donations to various churches put them over the top.

NewsChannel 11 Special Reports
Take a look at the special reports on NewsChannel 11 from the past.

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