The Wauseon Police Department and Wauseon Fire Department are issuing a joint warning to community members not to blindly donate to professional fundraisers that call and solicit around the holidays on behalf of police and fire departments.
Police Chief Keith Torbet and Fire Chief Rick Sluder caution people that neither department solicits funds for any purpose by telephone.
Sluder said he has received complaints from citizens about recent fundraising calls from persons claiming to represent the Ohio Firefighters Association and the Firefighters Charitable Foundations and seeking donations on behalf of the Wauseon Fire Department.
“We do not endorse or receive funds from either of these organizations, nor do we support their fundraising efforts,” he said.
All fundraising conducted on behalf of the fire department is conducted by the Wauseon Fireman’s Association, and never by telephone. In addition, fundraising conducted for the National Fire Safety Council and Firefighter Phil programs to conduct educational programming in city schools is on a face-to-face manner only at local businesses, and the representative will have fire department credentials on-hand.
Any fundraisers held by the Wauseon Fire Department will be advertised at www.wauseonfire.com.
Torbet said the Wauseon Police Department is currently not soliciting funds for any project. He said the only legitimate police organization that may be fundraising locally is the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. Citizens should request credentials from any individual soliciting for any cause.
“Always do your homework before donating to any cause,” Torbet said.
He said many telephone or online solicitations from professional organizations claiming to support local police and fire departments are for the benefit of the professional fundraiser working for them. In many cases, more than 90 percent of the money collected goes toward the fundraiser’s fees.
The following tips concerning telephone solicitors are offered:
• Don’t feel pressured into donating immediately. Any legitimate group will provide contact information and federal tax identification information.
• Research a group before giving, and investigate those requesting support. For help, contact the Better Business Bureau or visit www.Guidestar.org to verify a group’s tax filings.
• Never give money directly to a fundraiser. Send a donation directly to the organization.
• Verify tax deductibility of the group by searching IRS Publication 78.
Further questions about anyone telephoning to request a donation on behalf of the Wauseon fire and police departments or organizations claiming to benefit one of the city’s public safety departmentscan be directed to the police department, 419-335-3821 or the fire department 419-335-7831.