Charity Tracker helps do the most good

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The Griffin-Spalding Archway Program, along with the Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children, is encouraging use of Charity Tracker as a way to best use the benevolent resources the community has to offer.

In a presentation at the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee breakfast meeting Thursday morning, Will Doss of Eagles Way Church said “the Griffin-Spalding County community is one of the most benevolent, giving communities there is. And people are drawn here because of it.”

Charity Tracker, he said, “is a way to account for that charity.”

It is the next step for the collaborative, and previous efforts of Partners for Prosperous Griffin, prior to the Archway Partnership, Doss said, “Which brought in dollars to make things happen.”

Those dollars come from the city, county and school system, as well as the expertise and resources from the University of Georgia.

“Having something like this,” Doss said, “we found a way to keep groups involved. Not all are a part of Charity Tracker. Even Eagles Way is not, but we are giving our benevolent funds to organizations that are able to track and verify, including Salvation Army, Rushton’s Hope and Five Loaves Two Fish Food Pantry.

There are nine local participating agencies so far, including many of the biggest, like The Salvation Army, First Baptist Church of Griffin, Griffin First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian, Center Point Church, Ruston’s Hope and Spalding Samaritans.

He admitted it is not for everybody, including some of the smaller agencies and churches and soup kitchens.

“As it grows, we will see benefits across the board, to see who is being helped,” he said.

Doss emphasized, “It was not designed to say you received help, we’re not going to help. It’s a way to check if people are being honest, and for organizations to make the decision not to help somebody because they are not being honest to your face.”

At the Educational Prosperity Initiative, later that same morning, Chairman Jewel Walker-Harps said, “It’s not intended to not have needs met, but to catch those who abuse it. If you have one child, you shouldn’t be getting three bicycles.”

Doss said there have been reports of some families that have been helped by more than one group at Christmas, “some coming to deliver gifts to a needy family and finding lots of other gifts already opened, when they get there.”

Walker-Harps said the registration at The Salvation Army was down from previous years. Registration closed Saturday.

According to information from Doss, First Baptist Church will accept applications the week after The Salvation Army, and Toys for Tots will begin purchasing toys later this month. Most churches will begin toy drives in November and angel trees go up on Black Friday. The Southside Riders Association has a Toy Run on Nov. 17, the Windwalkers has one on Nov. 26, and Bobby D will start his bikes for kid’s events.

During the Christmas giving season this year, Doss said, before Charity Tracker is fully activated, The Salvation Army will work with other organizations to cross-reference potential recipients, to check names against their list, and keep a master list, for others to reference.

“If you really want to help a particular family,” Doss said, “see who else does, and have them release them from their list.”

He said, “For this year, we feel this is the way to bring responsibility to benevolence and still help those in need.”

Both Doss and Chuck Copeland, who serves on the Archway Committee, said the impetus for Charity Tracker was a book, “Toxic Charity.” Both saw similarities in the book and in Griffin, noting the community has attracted people because of the generosity.

Copeland cited a quote from the book: “Nothing is more damaging to mankind to do for him what he should be doing for himself.”

Charity Tracker will track recipients by name, address, birthdate, Social Security number, but recipients will have to agree to have their information shared, and some may not want to. The collaborative, Doss said, would be the local hub for the information. It will also be a way to track the success of programs and for organizations to see what services others are offering.

He noted that First Baptist Church of Griffin has been using it for some time, and it will not be completely implemented locally until after the new year. Organizations wanting to cross-check with The Salvation Army Christmas list can contact Jenny Reed at jenny.reed@uss.salvationarmy.org.

Ray Lightner
Griffin Daily News.
October 9, 2016