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Keep an eye out for both scams and good ways to give
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

There is a man that I see on a regular basis standing at an intersection. He is holding a sign about needing money for his family.

In my heart, I’d like to believe he is sincere, but after a couple of years of seeing him in the same place, I have my doubts.

This is the season of generosity, but there are a ton of scam artists out there who will take your money and the result is not charitable.

There are too many good organizations that know how to stretch a buck to help the most people. The Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and local food banks do a wonderful job of making sure that those who are hungry get a meal and that kids have toys under the tree.

But the scam thing doesn’t stop with charities. There are websites that look like the real ones, but are just a set up to take your money. Make sure that the web address is spelled correctly. Sometimes, crooks will use the name of a legit website, but the address is something altogether different.

I think there is a special place for people who take money from people at the holidays and I hope they end up there.

I have become wary of phone calls from organizations that claim to be helping veterans or the children of law enforcement officers. If you want to help veterans, ask organizations like the American Legion or the VFW how you can help. The Georgia Sheriffs have a wonderful group of homes to help young people. Someone with the sheriff’s office in your county may be able to point you in the right direction.

Another place that people sometimes try to scam you is when you buy gift cards. Check the back of the card and make sure that the security numbers have not been scratched off.

The retailers who offer an opportunity to round up your purchase to the next dollar are diligent in getting the money where it needs to go. A few cents from you can make a difference.

Several places, including churches and others have angel trees, where you can pick an angel from the tree that has the gift wishes of a child. You can purchase them and the tree sponsor will make sure that the present gets to the recipient.

I don’t need to be a downer, but it seems that for every legitimate need, there is also a scam. You work hard for your money and you want it to help people. It’s a shame that people will use technology and other means to try to trick you into giving to their ill-gotten gains.

And by the way, if you are looking to give something for the person who has everything, there are wonderful charities that do good things year-round. Give a gift in the name of someone you love or care about. These organizations will often provide you with a nice card that you can share the news of the gift with your special person.

It can be a wonderful holiday season if you’re careful in watching out for folks who are up to no good.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on