7 On Your Side: Charitable Giving - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Charitable giving

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

On a cold and rainy Monday, there's a crowd at Abraham's Tent in Lake Charles. Those in need get a reprieve from the bad weather -- and can sit down to a hot meal at no charge.

Volunteers like local attorney Greg Bergstedt, here with others from First Methodist Church in Lake Charles, help the place run like clockwork. Abraham's Tent is a food kitchen.

"We run on donations, food from various organizations, including local businesses. There's a hot meal every day 365 days a year, various organizations. Businesses and church groups take turns serving the food. So, we cook it in the morning and serve it at lunch 365 days a year," Bergstedt said.

Most people in this community are well familiar with the good works of Abraham's Tent. But what do you do if somebody else asks you for money or donations, and you're not so sure they're legit? Carmen Million with the Southwest Louisiana Better Business Bureau said you can check out the charity by calling the BBB or logging onto the web site.

They evaluate the charity based on various criteria -- such as how much of what's collected may go to administrative costs.

"There's nothing wrong with questioning a particular charity, asking how much of the money is actually going to the cause and what that cause is. The other thing the BBB wants you to be aware of is there are look alike organizations. Those are organizations that will borrow a name of a particular, or part of a name of a particular well know organization and it will make you think you are giving to a well known organization," said Million.

Million urges people to do their homework to make sure charitable donations truly help people in need.

"Investigate that charity, make sure the money is actually going where it's supposed to go. The BBB tells consumers everyday, if you give because it makes you feel good, but the money didn't go to the cause, you've defeated the purpose of giving and the people that are really in need are still there," explained Million.

She says ask for proof or documentation that your donation is going for the cause you intend. 

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