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Color of Money

Be Generous, but Be Careful

By Michelle Singletary
The Washington Post
Sunday, January 9, 2005; Page F01

It never ceases to amaze me, the capacity of people to give.

In Washington, Donnie Simpson, a local radio personality, recently helped raise funds for the American Red Cross tsunami relief efforts. Listeners were encouraged to donate a minimum of $100 for a song request or shout-out (that's just a "hey!" to somebody).

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Simpson went on the air at 6 a.m. and 12 hours later had raised $70,000, mostly from regular working folk.

"I don't think any of us expected that much," said Reggie Rouse, Simpson's producer and operations manager for WPGC-FM (95.5).

The Indian Ocean tsunami has claimed more than 140,000 lives. The United Nations said this is the largest natural disaster it has faced in its 60-year existence.

If you haven't already given, I encourage you to help the millions of people who are in need.

If you want to give (and cash is best), but you're not sure which organization to give to, start with a list compiled by the U.S. Agency for International Development. It can be found online at www.usaid.gov.

You might also contact the Center for International Disaster Information at 703-276-1914 or www.cidi.org.

However, please be careful. Every major disaster unearths con artists who prey on philanthropic goodwill.

USAID warns that many nonregistered, unofficial "relief agencies" begin collecting cash donations they claim are used for disaster victims, but of course aren't.

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