Entries in Donation (7)


Huge Donation Goes to Wrong Animal Shelter

Tiffany Hagler-Geard/ABC News(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- One morning in early March, Susan Babbitt received a phone call from the Dana Law Firm in Scottsdale, Ariz. It was the kind of call people dream about: A woman had recently passed away, she was told, and had left money to the Friends of Collinsville Animal Shelter, the animal haven Babbit founded in Collinsville, Okla.

Babbit was shocked. Who was this woman? And more specifically, how much was the donation for?

"I was too polite to ask," Babbitt told ABC News.

A few days later, after mailing back a notarized and certified letter with the shelter's tax identification number as a nonprofit organization, she got her answer: The donor was 68-year-old Mary Kay Thomas. Thomas had no family and wanted to donate 27.5 percent of her estate to the animal shelter, according to Tulsa World.

As for the donation? It was for a whopping $188,981.03.

"I couldn't believe it," said Babbitt, who is also the librarian for the town, just north of Tulsa. She did wonder how Thomas was connected to her organization, but no one in Dana's office seemed to know. "That should have been a red flag, but it wasn't," Babbitt admitted.

Still, she was thrilled by the situation. "Every month we worry that we're going to have to close, and almost every other month we have some kind of a fundraiser"-- art sales, bake sales, garage sales. These small fundraisers helped her build the no-kill shelter, which goes by the name, Ward-Wiseman Animal Haven. It opened in 2008 after four years of effort and can hold about 30 cats and dogs, she said.

"I've always said, when you have an animal shelter you spend money, you don't make money," said Babbitt. "There's no way to get ahead. We charge a small fee--$120--to adopt the animal. But by the time we spay, neuter and give the animals heartworm tests, we've spent that much. But for the animals to be able to go to a good home, it's worth it to us."

On March 27, Babbitt received the check and immediately transferred it into the shelter's account. And that would have been that, but for the call she received on April 15. The law firm had made a mistake, the voice on her answering machine said. The check had gone to the wrong shelter. Instead, it was meant for the Friends of Collinsville Animal Shelter--the animal control and adoption shelter for the City of Collinsville, Illinois, not Oklahoma.

"I said 'You're kidding me! How can this happen after eight weeks?" Babbitt recalled.

She consulted her lawyer, who told her that she had to return the money.

Matt Dana, the owner and president of Dana Law Firm, told ABC News that it was an honest mix-up, the result of changing personnel in his office. "Somewhere along the way the file was assigned to a different attorney in the firm with a different paralegal, and they mailed out the check to the wrong charity," he said.

Dana said his company realized the mistake after a representative from the Collinsville, Ill., shelter—now called the Warren Billhartz Collinsville Animal Shelter -- called to ask about the status of the check. "Everybody started to panic and looked in the file and discovered there were two shelters and the check was sent to the wrong one," said Dana.

Although he feels "terrible," he does expect Babbitt to return the money. "It's no different than if you go to the grocery store and when you check out there's a bag of sugar under your cart that you didn't buy," he said. "The clerk made a mistake. It's not like you get to keep the sugar."

 Babbitt, for her part, has every intention to send back the cash, although she has not yet done so. "I just haven't had time," she said. "I'm going to do it."

But just in case, she gave a call to John Miller, the mayor of Collinsville, Ill., to ask if he would be willing to split the donation in half. "We are a no-kill institution," she said. "They euthanize. We don't. I doubt the woman would have wanted to donate to a shelter that euthanizes the animals."

Neither the Illinois shelter nor the mayor's office returned calls to ABC News. As of this writing Babbitt had not heard back from the mayor.

To help compensate for his error, Dana plans to donate his $12,000 fee to Babbitt's shelter.

"We've been told those people never had more than $2,000 in their bank account," he said. "We can understand that this is devastating to them."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Beanie Babies Billionaire Makes $20,000 Donation to Kidney Patient 

Jennifer Vasilakos(NEW YORK) -- Beanie Babies, the hot collector’s item in the 1990s, became very valuable to one California woman.

After a chance encounter she had with the manufacturer’s owner, Ty Warner, Jennifer Vasilakos now has a greater chance of surviving a life-threatening kidney disorder.

Warner, the Beanie Babies billionaire mogul of Ty Inc., said he got lost on July 14 in Santa Barbara, Calif., and pulled into the parking lot of a local festival to ask for directions.

“He’d rolled up in his nondescript car, while I was fundraising at the French Festival.  He was lost and needed directions.  I often get asked by random strangers for directions.  Not one to miss an opportunity, I handed him my flyer and he made a fifty dollar donation,” Vasilakos wrote on her blog.

Vasilakos was in the parking lot raising money for the stem cell treatment she desperately needed to recover her kidney function and come off dialysis, she said on her fundraising website.

Vasilakos’ kidneys failed last year (doctors still don’t know why), and she was told she was ineligible for a kidney transplant because she previously had a small melanoma removed from her back.  The stem cell treatment was the next best option, as it costs less than a transplant and she wouldn’t have to take drugs to suppress her immune system and keep her body from rejecting a new organ.

Vasilakos needed to raise enough money to undergo the procedure. She would have to go outside the U.S. because no hospitals here perform the treatment she sought.

Warner seemed generous; after she gave him the directions he needed, he made a $50 donation and went on his way.

“As he drove off, I thought that was the end of our encounter.  One of my girlfriends with me that Saturday morning noticed his return before I did.  Again he stopped at my table near the entry to the parking lot.  He’d returned after an hour or so.  Rolling down his window, he reached out his hand and introduced himself.  I immediately recognized his name. He was kind and sincere as he looked directly into my eyes, and the woman with him smiled at me.  They’d read my flyer,” Vasilakos said on her blog.

“I listened as he repeated over and over that he was going to help me.  That my fundraising was done.  That I didn’t need to worry any longer.  He said he would send a check after he returned to his offices during the week.”

And he did. On July 26, Vasilakos blogged that she received a package at her office.  When she went to her desk to get it, she saw an overnight FedEx envelope from Warner.

“The handwritten letter by the donor was genuine and heartfelt.  It was the type of letter you keep forever, and accompanying it was the check.  A check that could change my life in an instant.  Streaming tears of relief and amazement fell uncontrollably from my eyes, as I walked out of the room back towards the exit.  I was flooded with indescribable emotion,” Vasilakos said.

Warner had sent a check for $20,000 to cover her expenses.

“The cost of round trip travel. The cost of the dialysis treatments while there. The cost of the stem cell treatment itself. Food. Lodging. Calculating numbers in my head, I concluded that I might have enough now to go without worrying about anything. I might have all that I need to claim my life back and continue my journey here on Earth. ” wrote Vasilakos.

On Tuesday, Warner released a statement explaining his donation was about more than just Vasilakos’ immediate need for help.

“After I serendipitously met Jennifer, I further educated myself on her stem cell needs. I was shocked that this particular type of treatment wasn’t available to her in the U.S.,” Warner said. “My hope is that we can bring this lifesaving treatment to the forefront so that it can become more readily available and provide alternatives for people like Jennifer.”

Upon receiving the check, Vasilakos said all the tension in her body released and a euphoric feeling began to fill her. She wrote on her blog she was beaming from ear to ear as she floated to her to car to start sharing the news.

And now, almost one month later, it’s pretty clear the news has spread.

Vasilakos left California Aug. 19 to begin her treatment at a foreign hospital approved by the International Cellular Medicine Society. She will disclose the treatment’s location once she returns to the U.S.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kentucky Man Buys Everything at Kmart, Then Donates All to Charity

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Kentucky businessman showed a heart of gold by buying the entire inventory of a closing K-Mart and donating it to charity.

After turning aside calls from flea markets looking to buy the inventory valued at around $200,000, Rankin Paynter, the owner of a Winchester firm that buys up surplus goods, decided to donate the merchandise to a local charity.

"I told my wife, I can make $30,000 or $40,000 on this deal but let's give it to charity," Paynter told ABC News.

During a visit to the store, the good Samaritan was checking out the display cases and a safe for his jewelry buying business when he learned the store would sell all of the merchandise on the last day of business.  One requirement: You had to be a power buyer.

Paynter had to fill out an application with the company to purchase the goods, which had everything from winter clothes to over-the-counter medicine.  According to Paynter, the day before closing the store called to offer him the whole lot.  But there was one rule.

"They said you can buy it all but you must sign a contract and take everything left in the store," Paynter told ABC News.

And, he did.  On Sunday, May 6, the businessmen stood in line for six and half hours to purchase the inventory that had to be rung up at four different registers the evening the store closed.  It took the 77-year-old two trucks, two vans and six workers to move all the items from the store to storage.  However, Payntner had no clue then what he planned on doing with all the inventory.

During a discussion with his banker, Paynter learned about a charity in the area that could use the goods he purchased.  And, after viewing some of their financial records, the Winchester businessman decided to go with Clark County Community Services, which serves low- and middle-income residents in the area.

The inventory was an early Christmas gift for the organization, which plans on boxing up the winter goods to be distributed later on this year.

"This will be the first time we will have enough coats and gloves for everybody," said Judy Crowe, the director of the non-profit organization.  The organization's Christmas program "Operation Happiness" is one of the largest in the area, serving 1,500 families in one day.

It's a decision that makes Paynter proud.

"It makes me feel good [to give to charity]," he said.  "I come from real poor background.  I'm talking really poor.  I was able to pull myself out and make a lot of money."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


PepsiCo Commits $500,000 to Help Tornado Victims in Missouri

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(PURCHASE, N.Y.) -- PepsiCo announced Monday that it is committing $500,000 towards relief efforts in Missouri, where tornadoes and severe weather ravaged several towns like Joplin, leaving more than 100 people dead.

The company's latest contribution comes after a $125,000 commitment it made to help areas in the southern U.S. that were also affected by severe storms.

"The people of Joplin and other communities affected by these devastating storms are in our thoughts and prayers," said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.  "They need our help more than ever, and the entire PepsiCo family will fully support the recovery and rebuilding process along the way."

Along with the financial contributions, PepsiCo has also been donating foods and beverages to the impacted regions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The Home Depot Commits $1M to Recovery in Joplin, Missouri

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Home Depot Tuesday announced it would donate $1 million to Joplin, Mo. to help rebuild the city torn apart by a massive EF-5 tornado this week.  The company also committed to the long-term recovery efforts in Joplin.

"The devastation in Joplin is indescribable and we will be there to help this community get back on its feet," said Home Depot CEO Frank Blake in a statement Tuesday.  He added, "…the rebuilding will take years, and we are committed to Joplin for the long haul.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the residents of Joplin who are now struggling in the aftermath of this terrible storm."

The Home Depot has also launched "Drive for Joplin" through the Homer Fund, a charity for Home Depot associates needing emergency financial assistance.  This campaign is meant to support company employees affected by the tornado.

The Home Depot Foundation will travel to Joplin this week to assess the long-term needs of recovery in Joplin.  The Home Depot said it has plans to rebuild the store in Joplin.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Monsanto Company Pledges $100K to St. Louis Relief Efforts

Monsanto Company(ST. LOUIS) -- One company has stepped forward and pledged to help with relief efforts in St. Louis after storms swept through the area Friday and left a trail of devastation in its wake.

The Monsanto Company issued a press release on Saturday saying it pledges $100,000 to the American Red Cross to aid in early relief efforts. The company says its donation is expected to support the Red Cross in local efforts related to the storm, while providing the organization with some flexibility as crews work to clean up the mess left by the apparent tornado.

"St. Louis is our home and we're doing our part to help our friends and neighbors begin the clean-up and rebuilding efforts," said Jan Holloway, Senior Vice President of Community Relations for Monsanto. "We're so thankful there were minimal injuries and we believe this pledge to the Red Cross can provide the agency with an initial boost to help more quickly advance their relief efforts."

Storms pummeled parts of Missouri Friday evening, resulting in severe damage to the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, and minor injuries to four people.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tax Tip: Deducting for Charitable Donations

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Giving money to your favorite charity qualifies as a tax deduction, but "the key is if you make a charitable contribution, get a receipt or make sure your bank account shows who you've made a charitable contribution to,” says Eric Smith with the IRS.

The money must go to a registered nonprofit group, religious organization or charity.

Have you donated clothing to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army?

“If you can keep a list of – ‘Okay, there were four pair of pants and two shirts and the pants are valued at $3 and the shirts are at $2.’ That would be really good documentation to be able to provide."

Expenses involved in charitable work may also be deductible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio