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Avoiding Sandy scams - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Avoiding Sandy scams

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Superstorm Sandy has Vermonters opening up their wallets, wanting to help storm victims struggling to survive.

"We're seeing tremendous generosity. It's everything from kids walking in with their parents with a five dollar donation. A gentlemen sent us $542 -- represented half of his social security check that he just received,"  said Doug Bishop with the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross is not set-up to handle donations of food and clothing. They say financial contributions help the most. "It gives the Red Cross the greatest flexibility, so as we bring in an additional 80-thousand blankets as the colder weather sets in, as we go past the 1 million meal mark, money really helps us get that job done," Bishop said.

Officials from the local chapter say that over 90-percent of the money you donate goes toward humanitarian services in the affected areas. But the Red Cross is certainly not alone in its relief efforts. So when it comes to other charities, how do you know if your donations are reaching storm victims?

"We haven't seen any Sandy related scam activity yet," said Jason Duquette-Hoffman, who runs the Vermont Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. He said donors should always be cautious. Any organization that will not clearly identify itself, refuses to provide a mailing address or information in writing is probably a scam. You should also be weary of unsolicited emails from organizations claiming to raise money for the relief effort. "They may say this is a very urgent need, we don't have time. All of these relief efforts will be ongoing for quite some time and it's never unreasonable for consumers to request information in writing and legitimate charities will be happy to provide that information," he said.

And the need goes beyond the financial. Donor centers in Vermont are hoping to make up for the 360 blood drives that were canceled in affected areas."That's about 12-thousand pints of blood products that we expected to get that we don't have. So while donations have been dipping, the needs still remain in the hospitals and elsewhere," Bishop said.

They're hoping Vermonters will continue rolling-up their sleeves, donating blood or volunteering, as the recovery process continues for months to come.

To find out about Red Cross volunteer efforts click here.  

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