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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Beware of scams from Boston bombing

OLYMPIA — Be careful about giving money to groups that claim to be helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, state officials warned today.

In what some would consider a disturbing sign of the times, Attorney General Rob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman issued the caution barely 24 hours after a pair of bombs were detonated near the finish line of the iconic race.

Fake fundraisers will use the tragedy to scam people into making bogus contributions, they warned. Be careful with your money and make sure the donation helps those who really need help.

They offered some good tips for making any charitable contribution, but particularly in times of tragedy. Those tips can be found inside the blog.


Allen Foundation gives $655K to seven Idaho nonprofits

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Catholic Charities of Idaho are among a handful of nonprofits around the state getting more than $650,000 from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The Seattle-based foundation announced its latest round of grants Tuesday. Each year, the foundation supports nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest, and this year seven Idaho groups split $655,000. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival got $125,000 to support a technology project, while Catholic Charities received $110,000 for a project to provide financial stability to low-income residents. The foundation also gave $50,000 to the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nev., to underwrite a multimedia project for the annual Fiddler's Pilgrimage in Weiser. Other winners include the Boise Art Museum and the Idaho Nonprofit Center. The foundation has injected $4.3 million into Idaho since 1990.

Guild donates to theft-stricken charity

The Spokane Police Guild will donate $500 to the Wishing Star Foundation after burglaries left sick children without Christmas presents.

The donation is one of many the nonprofit organization has accepted since news of $1,000 in items stolen in two burglaries was reported last week at its office at 139 S. Sherman St. Stolen gifts included those meant for a four-year-old cancer patient whose home was burglarized in the Tri-Cities.

Certified Security Systems of Spokane Valley is donating a security system, and cash donations have enabled the organization to replace all lost items and then some, said Paula Nordgaarden, Wishing Star's executive director.

"Our community is so wonderful," Nordgaarden said. "This outpouring, it was overwhelming."

Nordgaarden said all families on the organization's waiting list will be taken care of this Christmas, and she expects to have about $15,000 leftover for next year.

"We want to thank everybody. Just a huge thank you from Wishing Star," Nordgaarden said.

Hockey game pits SPD against SCSO

Local law enforcement will take to the ice on Saturday to raise money in honor of fallen and injured officers.

Doors open at 4 p.m. at the Spokane Arena for the 5 p.m. match between the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Proceeds benefit the Behind the Badge Foundation, which honors "the sacrifices of officers who have suffered a line of duty death or catastrophic injury," according to a news release.

Donations will be accepted during the Chiefs game.

The Chiefs will be holding a silent auction to raise money for foundation, also,

Admittance to the game is free with a ticket to the Chiefs game against the Regina, B.C., Pats at 7:05 p.m.

To purchase tickets please call (509) 535-Puck or (509) 328-0450 and mention you are attending both events.

Man stole $24k from 2 Spokane charities

A former treasurer for two Spokane charities who became involved with a cash-strapped woman he met at a spa has been ordered to repay $24,000 after pleading guilty to felony theft.

Curtis G. Wasson, 59, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft last week for embezzling from the North Lions Club and the Hillyard chapter of the Knights of Columbus. Along with restitution, he was credited for one day served in jail.

The North Lions Club is a non-profit group that helps people with vision or hearing impairments. Wasson had been the treasurer for at least 10 years. Group members began investigating Wasson after a donation check to a Spokane high school student who was volunteering with hurricane relief assistance bounced and the student was charged overdraft fees. Police believe Wasson stole about $18,000 from the group beginning in 2004.

Wasson also stole about $6,000 from the Knights of Columbus, a charity for the sick and disabled.

The group was due for an audit in February 2009, but Wasson, a self-employed tax accountant, delayed it, saying he was too busy. Washington Trust Bank advised group members of unusual activity in their account two months later.

Wasson wrote several unauthorized checks at grocery stores and also cashed 20 unauthorized checks between November 2008 and April 2009. He also wrote checks to Brandie Meyers, who police believe was desperate for cash to pay her child custody attorney.

Meyers told police she met Wasson while working at Suzi's Spa. She said she "provided Wasson with girls when he requested it" and that he paid her in exchange, and that he also helped her with money for her attorney.

Wasson later told police he paid Meyers for sex but that she used photographs and recordings to extort him. Records show Wasson and his wife of 27 years are divorcing.

A Charity-a-Day: Military

Continuing with our Charity-a-Day thing… here is a wonderful list of organizations that aid or assist Military Personnel, their families, and Veterans. So as not to make a huge post, I created a pdf document for you all to look at.

Military Support Organizations

What are some of your favorite ways to “Support the Troops”? Do you have anyone in your family currently serving in the military?

Charity-A-Day: Animal Charities

In honor of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, here are some animal charities you may want to consider:  


The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a conservation organization that you’ve probably heard of. They work to conserve both endangered lands and animals. To help the WWF, you are given the opportunity to “adopt” an animal of a certain species, for $25, $50, or $100 (in return, you are given “gifts” such as a certificate, photo, or stuffed animal, depending on the amount of donation).


What would Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month be without The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)? The ASPCA is an organization dedicated to helping abused, unwanted, or neglected animals, and helping educate people on proper pet care.


Many of you have heard of SCRAPS animal shelter in Spokane. Since this is a local charity, you not only have the choice of donating money, but volunteering at the shelter as well (which I highly recommend, if you haven’t done it). SCRAPS often receives injured animals, but does not have a veterinarian on staff, so it relies completely on donations to treat the animals in its care. SCRAPS is also holding a Chocolate Festival & Auction on Friday the 17th, at at

Center Place
Mirabeau Point Place
. Tickets cost $20 (see the website for more information).    


Cat Tales is a local organization that takes in large cats (such as tigers and lions), as well as some bears. As far as I know, Cat Tales does not have volunteer opportunities (it’s not hard to figure out why they don’t want you walking the tigers), but they do offer opportunities to donate or “adopt” an animal of your choice.  


If you are interested in volunteering with animals, most of the local animal shelters, and many vet offices, offer volunteer opportunities. A simple phone call will be able to tell you whether they have openings available.  



Before you go out and donate, I really have to stress the importance of learning about the organization you plan to support. Sadly, there are some “charities” out there more focused on money than on helping out, and other organizations may support something you are passionate about, but may execute demonstrations, etc., in a way that you do not agree with. For instance, PETA supports ending cruelty to animals, but it also disagrees with the keeping of animals as pets, and would prefer to see an animal put to sleep rather than “enslaved.” Read this article to help you chose an animal charity.


Here is a list of more animal charities and organizations.