Monday, November 26, 2012

Will There Be Salvation For The Executive Director Grinch Who Stole $2M Worth Of Toys ... From The Salvation Army?

Probably not, but subsequent donations vindicate toy makers' greed.
Thefts of Salvation Army kettles during the Christmas season have been rampant for years, but this inside job surely takes the cake for sheer Grinchieness:

"TORONTO – The former executive director of a Salvation Army facility has been charged in the alleged massive theft of thousands of toys and donations from the charity's Toronto warehouse.Staff Insp. Tony Riviere said Monday David Rennie, 51, is charged with theft, possession of stolen goods and breach of trust and will appear in court on Jan. 4.The Salvation Army announced the theft last week, saying up to 100,000 items worth about $2 million were allegedly stolen from the facility in Toronto's North End over nearly two years."

'Tis the season to give..and receive, or so David Rennie thought ... for almost two years. After a devastating disaster and fire hit the Salvation Army warehouse in Toronto, Rennie was hired as executive director to help clean up. Instead, he cleaned out: diverting over 100,000 toys, bikes, strollers and foodstuffs to another warehouse he rented. Over 146 pallets were discovered. Some bikes donated by the mayor of Toronto were discovered among the donations. He wasn't alone in this massive theft, and police are looking for further suspects. He turned himself in to police four days after he was fired and the theft made public.

Poor guy, he was probably just trying to get that ONE Christmas toy his kids were hollering for.

The city of Toronto has been in shock for the last 5 days, with people wondering how many children could have had much needed toys or strollers ...or food. It's the most Grinch-like theft to hit North America in decades. But while the city reeled, two toy makers sprang into action, donating more than $350,000 worth of toys:

"Within days of the theft being made public, several companies offered large donations to the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas toy drive. Spinmaster Toys donated $100,000, while Hasbro Canada pledged $250,000 in toys to CTV’s Toy Mountain, which collects toys that are then passed on to the Salvation Army."
Is There No Soul Left In Christmas?

The massive theft brought out about the risky side of donating to some charities: they may be based on a benevolent Christian God, but they are still subject to human greed, and the officials have to steel themselves for the possibility of theft at all levels. Yes, it is a sad commentary, but the fact is that hypocrisy (saying you are "Christian" while not practicing the tenets of Christianity) has ruled for a very long time in today's religious enclaves and failure to recognize that fact makes all faith-based charities vulnerable. In Catholic circles, priests and bishops have been caught with their hands in the collection box; in televangelist media, fraud is rampant*; scam artists abound in the form of prosperity gospel preachers. 

And for those who want the money, Christmas is just another fruitful holiday.

Keeping It Local

For the donor, the best way to donate, may be to donate as locally as possible. Of course, operations like the Salvation Army have local chapters such as the one for Toronto, but the more local a charity is, the better it can be tracked as to how much of your dollars are actually going directly to the people who need them most. Diligence is the key.

We can't always depend upon big corporations to step in during a crisis. 

*Remember that Pat Robertson almost landed in jail for fraud: asking people to donate for relief operations to Zaire while having Operation Blessing planes ferry his mining equipment.

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