Data is available on how contributions to charities are...

Letters

December 04, 1998

Data is available on how contributions to charities are used

A Nov. 30 letter to the editor ("Putting the right goods in Bags of Plenty") expressed concern about how the cash raised by the Bags of Plenty is used. It seemed unfair to raise the question without attempting to answer it.

In Maryland, charities raising more than $25,000 in public support must register with the state. You may obtain basic financial information on registered charities at: http: //www.sos.state.md.us/sos/charity/

html/search.html

You can also obtain detailed financial reports directly from the charity.

In 1997, the Maryland Food Bank spent $17,371,349 on charitable programs; $333,922 on management and general expenses, and $141,044 on fund raising. This places charitable program expenditures for the overall organization at more than 97 percent of the support raised, an extraordinarily efficient use of funds. While this doesn't directly answer the question of how Bags of Plenty cash is used, it does reflect an efficient organization with very low overhead.

It is a natural tendency for contributors to want their entire gift applied to the charitable cause, and Bags of Plenty makes it easy to make a 100 percent restricted contribution. But we shouldn't hesitate to support charities that are conscientious about maintaining low overhead.

Contributors giving general cash gifts to the Maryland Food Bank should feel very good. The charity would not exist without cash support, and every dollar spent on overhead is leveraged into many dollars of contributions.

Tim Walsh

Baltimore

In response to Jack Johnson's suggestions (Letter to the editor, Nov. 30) for our Bags of Plenty campaign, we welcome his ideas and will include them in our planning meetings for next year.

Thank you to everyone who donated much-needed food and financial support this year.

The food items go to the Maryland Food Bank and are then distributed to pantries and soup kitchens that provide free food to disadvantaged people.

The funds we receive are used to buy nutritional food (especially canned meats, which are always in short supply), to supplement donated items and to support programs of the Center for Poverty Solutions (formerly the Maryland Food Committee and Action for the Homeless). Grants specifically for food are given to emergency food providers throughout the state. Together, our agencies provide food for more than 20,000 hungry people every day.

We keep our administrative and development expenses to a minimum, and most of the expenses for Bags of Plenty are underwritten by our corporate sponsors. Financial statements for both organizations are available to the public; just call and ask for a copy.

Nearly 500,000 Marylanders are living in poverty today, and half of them are impoverished senior citizens or children. The cutback in federal food stamps leaves many unable to provide adequate food and shelter for their families. We depend on campaigns like Bags of Plenty and are deeply grateful for the generosity of Marylanders willing to share with their neighbors.

Robert V. Hess

Bill Ewing

Baltimore

The writers are president of the Center for Poverty Solutions an executive director of the Maryland Food Bank, respectively.

Chavez's commentary on poverty is 'naive'

Not wishing to deny that this generation indeed has much to be thankful for, I still found Linda Chavez's Nov. 26 Opinion Commentary article, "Poverty isn't what it used to be," quite naive. She mentions her father not being able to purchase substantial Thanksgiving food and requesting his bologna be wrapped in paper with butchers string so that he might use the string for his shoelaces. I suspect this generation would just pull out a plastic card and end up with the full Thanksgiving fare and new shoes to go with the laces.

The poor by all appearances may look prosperous, but if the incredible use of credit cards and a 300 percent rise in personal bankruptcies means anything, these folks are just as poor as they ever were. Try living without credit, and you will find life far less bountiful.

Joyce C. Robinson

Glen Burnie

Starr's investigative tactics undermine system of justice

Kenneth Starr's testimony disturbed me deeply as a perversion of that very justice that he used to so sanctimoniously justify his actions.

Mr. Starr was true to his name with his use of Star Chamber tactics, including punishment by inference rather than facts and half-truths, such as the leak of a partial quote of Webster Hubbell's jail-house conversation when the remainder of the statement exculpated Hillary Clinton. Perhaps even more disturbing is Mr. Starr's characterization of President Clinton's valid legal privilege as "abuse of power."

The bedrock of our legal system is for individuals or organizations to request judicial interpretation of legislative and constitutional questions.

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