Walla Walla sheriff emphasizes caution, urges to use local nonprofits

Walla Walla County Sheriff John A. Turner is advising the public to use caution when making charitable contributions after an organization called Search and Rescue Charities contacted some Walla Walla County citizens claiming to support local Search and Rescue teams.

During the solicitation, which has included phone and mail, the group claims that it does support the Walla Walla County Search and Rescue, but Search and Rescue can find no records of ever being contacted, much less being supported by this group. State level Search and Rescue officials never have heard of this charity, according to the news release.

Legitimate and well-established charitable groups easily are reached by telephone or email and have local representatives who can answer questions regarding funding and expenditures. They most likely will have local or regional offices that are open to the public and have complete transparency, the release said.

To ensure that most of your donation dollars are used for local activities, make your contributions to local organizations.

If you have been contacted by a fund-raising organization seeking financial contributions, ask questions and request that all information be mailed to you. If your request is refused, hang up. Do not give cash to door-to-door solicitors; most legitimate charities will provide information packets and allow mail-in contributions after you have had time to validate the solicitation. Remember, donations are always welcome at local charities.

If you have been contacted by one of the organizations mentioned above, call the Crime Victim Office at Walla Walla Police Department at 509-424-4526 or the sheriff's office at 509-524-5400 and file a complaint.