Category: Opinion

Consumer Counselor: Protect Yourself Against Charity Fraud – October 18, 2017

Charity fraud is a devious crime that victimizes both donors and the people and organizations who rely on donations to get by. Such fraud is more common than many people may know, and the people perpetrating the fraud may surprise prospective donors as well.
In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general in all 50 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against four cancer charities they accused of scamming consumers out of more than $187 million. The lawsuit alleged the groups used sophisticated, deceptive accounting schemes to defraud donors and make their charities appear larger and more efficient than they actually were. So while it’s easy to assume all perpetrators of charity fraud are shady criminals acting alone on the other end of the telephone, donors should know that charity fraud can be perpetrated by sophisticated businessmen as well.
Donors concerned about charity fraud can protect themselves and the money they have earmarked for charitable donations in various ways.
Request written information. Sophisticated fraud operations are successful because they make concerted efforts to appear as legitimate as possible. So a willingness to provide written information and brochures does not necessarily mean a charity is lawful. However, an organization’s unwillingness or inability to produce such information is a telltale sign of a fraudulent operation or one that may be unorganized and unable to meet its mission. Steer clear of such organizations.
Request and/or order tax returns. In the United States, copies of certain returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service by charities and nonprofits are available for purchase from the IRS. Many reputable organizations may share their tax returns with prospective donors, but donors who want to exercise due diligence can order the documents themselves.
Check a charity’s rating. Since 2001, Charity Navigator has examined tens of thousands of nonprofit financial documents in an effort to develop an unbiased, objective and numbers-based rating system for charitable organizations. Prospective Donors can access these ratings free of charge as they look to make more informed and intelligent giving decisions and avoid being victimized by fraudulent or dishonest organizations.
Never feel pressured to donate. Solicitors or fundraisers of reputable organizations are discouraged from pressuring prospective donors for donations. Telephone or in-person solicitors who employ pressure tactics when seeking donations are very likely affiliated with fraudulent or incompetent organizations.
Charity fraud victimizes donors and the people and organizations they seek to assist. Prospective donors should take time to properly vet charities before making their donations.

ViewPoint: National Farm to School Month: Supporting Local Economies

By Sandra Renner
sandrar@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to recognize the importance of improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and educating communities about the origins of their food.
In 2016, the Center for Rural Affairs joined more than 220 organizations nationwide to promote farm to school throughout October. This year marks the seventh year for National Farm to School Month, designated by Congress to bring awareness to the growing importance of these programs in child nutrition, local economies, and education.
What makes farm to school special? The program helps students learn where their food comes from and provides healthy access to more fruits and vegetables. It is an avenue for rural schools to keep spending in their communities with purchases made from local farms and food businesses.
Educators can also weave farm to school into math and science curriculum. The program is a great addition to business and entrepreneurship classes, as well as cooking classes. Imagine learning culinary skills using seasonal, local ingredients and how to buy them.
According to the 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Census, farm to school programs have invested more than $789 million in local communities; offered 17,089 salad bars with healthy options to students and staff; and grown 7,101 school gardens. Approximately 1,039 school districts serve local foods during the peak season in the summer months and 1,516 school districts start farm to school early in their pre-K programs.
The numbers don’t lie. Farm to school is a win for students, farm, food businesses, and communities. For more information on National Farm to School Month, visit our online toolkit at www.cfra.org/f2smonth.

Consumer Counselor – October 11, 2017

Digital Coupons Offer Another Way to Score Deals
Coupons enable cost-conscious consumers to save money on the goods and services they frequently use. As a marketing tool, coupons can help drive up sales and promote brand or store loyalty, leading to an increase in repeat customers.
The first coupon issued in the United States was believed to be a ticket for a free glass of Coca-Cola, issued in 1888. Grape Nuts soon followed, offering one cent coupons for discounts on cereal. Today, billions of dollars are saved thanks to the use of retail and manufacturer coupons.
Although coupons help people save money, they also serve as important market research tools and a means to advertise products. Today, coupons come in many different forms.
According to the coupon provider RedPlum, 76 percent of coupon-seekers utilize newspapers as their primary sources for deals and coupons. Coupon book publishers and those that produce coupon magazine vouchers still promote paper coupons, which remain popular among consumers. However, thanks to the ever-growing popularity of mobile phones, digital coupons have carved out a place in the retail environment. Savvy shoppers use both traditional and digital coupons to earn big savings, according to Valassis, one of the nation’s leading media and marketing services.
Digital coupon is a broad term used to represent various deals offered in digital form. Rather than clipping paper coupons, shoppers can access online and in-store discounts in various ways. Some of the coupons available to consumers include:
Downloaded coupons. These types of coupons can be downloaded from a company’s website, through email or through social media. Mobile coupons. Mobile coupons are created by ecommerce platforms to drive mobile shopping.
Coupon codes. Shopping online has contributed to the rise of coupon codes. A code is entered at the point of sale, and the discount is automatically deducted.
Loaded coupons. One of the more popular ways to redeem digital coupons, particularly those offered by supermarkets and other high-volume retailers, is to “load” coupons to a smartphone through an applicable store app. Shoppers often create an account that is tied to their store’s loyalty card number. By browsing the online circular or sales/coupons listed in the app, consumers can select the deals they want to load to their accounts. The deals are then redeemed at checkout either by scanning a code or automatically when the loyalty card is activated at the register. 
Just like traditional paper coupons, digital coupons feature expiration dates. Many such coupons are only redeemable once and are not subject to doubling unless advertised.  For time-strapped individuals, digital coupons can be an efficient way to save on products without worrying about forgetting paper coupons at home. However, paper coupons still are widely available and continue to dominate the discount market.

Letter to the Editor – Jason Good

To the Editor:
Fentanyl is the strongest opiate on the streets right now and it’s estimated to be 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Not only is fentanyl sold on the streets “as is,” but it’s also mixed into other drugs by dealers who have no regard for human life; all they care about is taking the addict’s money. 
Fentanyl has recently been found not only in heroin supplies, but it’s also been found in other illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana. Unsuspecting addicts consume the drug in the amounts they’re used to, completely oblivious to the fact that they are about to ingest a lethal dose of fentanyl.  
Fentanyl affects the opiate receptors of the brain and crosses through the blood-brain barrier and creates an intense euphoria and addiction in the user much like heroin. 
Fentanyl was originally only supposed to be indicated for cancer patients and for “end-of-life” pain. Fentanyl was rarely ever prescribed as a “take-home” medicine for chronic pain or painful disorders and never used outside of a hospital. 
Not only is fentanyl available on nearly every street corner nationwide, it’s also being widely distributed throughout the country after being imported from China. 
In order to finally get a grip on the growing opiate epidemic, doctors need to stop over-prescribing opiates so as to not create new addicts and effective drug rehab needs to be made available to anyone who needs it. 
Addiction doesn’t care who you are, how you were raised, or where you’re from; it can affect anyone. Another person becoming an unfortunate statistic is one too many.
For more information on fentanyl, go to  www.narconon-suncoast.org/blog/fentanyl-what-you-need-to-know.html. If you are in need of a referral to a treatment center, call us at 877-841-5509
Jason Good
Narconon, Suncoast 
Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation and Education

Consumer Counselor – October 4, 2017

Enjoy an Eco-Friendly Autumn
Autumn arrives with cool breezes, awe-inspiring foliage and the hint of holidays on the horizon. Fall is a favorite time of year for many people because the crisp weather motivates people of all ages to enjoy the great outdoors.
Individuals conscious of their carbon footprints can use fall as a time to take inventory of their behaviors and make changes where necessary. The following are some steps to take right now that fit perfectly with the harvest season.
Shop at a local farm stand. Take advantage of the many roadside stands that crop up this time of year where you can find bushels of apples, pumpkins, gourds, and late-summer vegetables. After a day of sightseeing, visit a farm stand for warm cider and freshly baked doughnuts. Buying local produce reduces reliance on foreign-shipped foods and other products, while also cutting back on the fuel consumed to get foods from the farm to the table.
Use nature to decorate. Skip plastic, mass-produced decorations and rely on nature to dress up your home. Fill vases with leaves and berries. Place small pumpkins on mantles, and enrich the landscape of your home with vibrantly hued mums and other cool-weather plants. Corn husks and stalks can add harvest flair to front porches. Twigs nestled and tied together can make interesting table centerpieces.
Create a composting pile. Outdoor chores are easier in cool weather than they are when the mercury rises. Set aside a place in the yard for composting. A healthy compost pile should have roughly two-thirds carbon (brown) materials and one-third nitrogen (green) materials, says EarthEasy.com. Use those lawn clippings and raked leaves to make compost for spring plantings.
Visit a corn maze. After corn has been harvested, farm owners often use their land for supplemental income. Corn mazes can be simple or complex depending on visitors’ ages. Engage in family bonding outside and turn off electronics in the process.
Bake your own pie. After a fun-filled day picking apples at a nearby orchard, head home and use those locally sourced apples to whip up a delicious pie. 
Recycle old clothes to dress your scarecrow. Clothing that is not worthy of donation can be transformed into a festive scarecrow just in time for Halloween hijinks. Fill out the body of the scarecrow with newspaper and then add some pieces of straw around the neck, hands and feet.

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Community Calendar

  • Harvest Breakfast, Veterans Memorial Hall

    Sunday, October 22 2017 @ 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Brandy’s Birthday Wish

2018 Honor Flight Calendar

2018 Honor Flight Calendar

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