Charity donation doesn't go where you think


by By MICHELLE BOUDIN / NewsChannel 36 E-mail Michelle:

Bio | Email | Follow: @MichelleBoudin

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 1 at 3:19 PM


Where does your AMVETS donation go?

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- You may have received a big pink bag in your mailbox, asking you to donate to a veteran's charity called AMVETS.

But do you really know where your donation is going? We stumbled onto this story while working on another investigation this week.

It all started with into how a driver for AMVETS mistakenly picked up somebody's dry cleaning, instead of clothes meant for their charity.

"They stole clothes off my front porch," said Katie Cusack.

The driver went to the wrong house. Heidi Green was the one who meant to donate her clothes.

But that wasn't the only problem.

"(I thought the clothes would go) to the AMVETS and they would distribute them to the people who needed them," Green told NewsChannel 36.

But AMVETS isn't getting Green's clothes. A Freedom Drive thrift store called the Community Thrift Store received the clothes and sold them for a profit.

"I felt like the clothing would be donated," Green said.

We tried to talk to the thrift store manager, Charley Brown, but ended up getting the runaround.

"I don't get involved in that end of it," Brown said.

Brown referred us to the head of AMVETS. He told us they have a contract with the Community Thrift Store that allows them to get paid per pickup. But he wouldn't tell us how much money the charity actually receives.

"We get a large percentage but I don't divulge that because of the number of other charities that are in competition with us on a daily basis," said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Piening.

The store manager says the contract with AMVETS allows them to pick up donations using the AMVETS name, and then sell them for profit.

We found a donation truck parked in the back of the thrift store parking lot. A sign on it says "Community Thrift Store," but it's easily flipped over and if you look closely, it reads "AMVETS" underneath.

The thrift store manager said they're doing nothing wrong with the truck.

But Green says, "I don't think I would donate to them again."