• Local charities named to ‘angels' and ‘scrooges' list

    By: Greg Suskin


    ROCK HILL, S.C. - Members of a Rock Hill-based police charity are angry about a new holiday list that they say gives them an unfair black eye.

    Each year, the South Carolina Secretary of State puts out a list of "angels" and "scrooges."  The purpose of the list is to honor charities that give more than 80 percent of their money directly to the causes they support.  The list also calls out charities that give less than 40 percent, labeling them "scrooges."

    This year, the York County Fraternal Order of Police landed on the scrooge list and they believe it’s unfair.

    "It upsets me because someone didn't check that list twice," said FOP President Officer John Aiton.

    The Secretary of State blamed the charity for giving only 9.2 percent of its income to its community programs. Aiton told Channel 9 that's not true.

    "Nothing has changed since last year. We give way more than 40 percent away.  We give more than 50 percent away," he said.

    According to numbers from the FOP, it's even higher than that.  The charity took in $51,328 last year, and spent $47,000. That means the charity gave away 92 percent of its money. 

    So how did the FOP end up on the scrooge list?

    FOP officials said a clerical error is responsible. The charity raises much of its budget through a Rock Hill bingo parlor.

    The FOP said a newly-hired accountant improperly listed all the revenue from the bingo parlor as going to the FOP, even though it doesn't.

    "This was a matter of just checking the wrong box,” said FOP treasurer Vernon Harmon. 

    He admits, it's their own fault.    

    "This was a mistake.  A mistake in how we filed it and it won't happen again next year," he said.

    Channel 9 asked Aiton if anyone from the charity planned to call the Secretary of State, and asked to be removed from the scrooge list.

    He said no. 

    "Whatever damage he was going to do to us is already done," he said. 

    Aiton and Harmon said the charity has nothing to hide, and its books are open for anyone who wants to see how the FOP spends its money.

    Another rock hill charity was on the positive end of the Secretary of State's list. 

    The Early Learning Partnership of York County was named an "angel" in the list released Thursday.

    The charity helps young children prepare for school through literacy and health programs.  Executive Director Teresa Creech was in Columbia on Thursday to receive the honor.

    "It’s so exciting.  It means we're being recognized for being tops in our field," she said.

    The organization spends 81 percent of its $350,000 budget on its children's programs.

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