Archive for the tag 'charities'

fillmoreFillmore Cares, a charitable group formed by Fillmore Real Estate employees in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, will be in front of the company’s Avenue U headquarters tomorrow, raising money for breast cancer by giving away free(-ish) hot dogs and raffles.

We say “free(-ish)” because you will be asked to make a donation of your choosing to the organization. Here’s how the company’s Howard Witz puts it:

I’m planning on BBQing and giving away FREE* HOT DOGS in front of Fillmore HQ at 2990 Avenue U (corner Batchelder Street) on Friday Sept 5th from 11AM to 3PM (or until supplies last) in support of Fillmore Real Estate’s BREAST CANCER Fundraising effort. A small donation (ANY amount) will be requested. Balloons, A Little Music, and lots of Fun! In addition HOWARD WITZ is having a separate FREE raffle for a 50″ Flat Screen TV… Im enclosing a few docs with info..

For the raffle, there will be a drawing on October 23, at the company’s annual Pink Party to support breast cancer organizations.

Source: Lisa Miller

Source: Lisa Miller

Cyclists finished off the Investors Bank Bike 4 Friendship Tour on Sunday, a 3,000 mile trek that ended in Brighton Beach.

The event kicked off 38 days ago in Los Angeles, led by Brooklynite Yitzy Smith and his six teammates. They crossed the finish line at Ocean Parkway in the early afternoon, completing the fourth annual event that this year raised more than $150,000 for Friendship Circle International, which joins teenage volunteers with children who have special needs.

The team averaged more than 80 miles a day as they crossed desserts, mountains, woods and plains. When they arrived in Livingston, New Jersey, they were joined by nine cross-country cyclists known as the Legends Team, who completed the full trip in previous years.

Update (5:30 p.m.): It looks like Brooklyn Brief was on this story, too, and had a bit more info on the cyclists:

An incredible journey on its own, some of the team members are also BK natives with their own unique personal stories. Yitzy Smith has now completed the trip twice, which is almost unheard of, even in the world of competitive cycling. Aaron Black is one of the youngest riders ever, at age 17. And Mendy Rapoport came all the way from Israel to participate.

clothing-bins

Clothing donation bins are nothing new to the area, although the handful of organizations behind them place them with varying degrees of legality.

One company in particular appears to have thrown caution to the wind, with several placements around Southern Brooklyn that are blatantly illegal. These bins may not be placed on public property, as it is in the photo above, but we’ve seen these pink boxes from Narciso Recycling Company doing just that from here to Bensonhurst.

And it’s not just us. The Manhattan Beach Community Group took notice, too, sending the following note to their members:

In case you haven’t noticed there are a growing number of pink clothing boxes being place in and around Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay and elsewhere. These boxes are illegal, the owners, we are told, take the clothing and sell it!

The Department of Sanitation will remove the boxes. All you have to do is call 311 and report the location of a box you see.

MBCG President Judy Baron told Sheepshead Bites that the bins have been spotted on Shore Boulevard, at a construction site near Girard Street. The one above is on Ocean Avenue and Shore Parkway.

The New York Times looked into these bins earlier this month and found that they were not only illegal, but have become a burden to taxpayers.

A growing number of companies — many of them based in New Jersey — are illegally placing used-clothing bins throughout New York City, blocking sidewalks and serving as magnets for litter and graffiti. The receptacles typically have signs that indicate donated goods will go to the poor or, in some cases, to legitimate charities. But, city officials said, the needy do not benefit from much of what is collected. Instead, the clothing is often sold in thrift stores or in bulk overseas, with the proceeds going to for-profit entities that can be impossible to trace, or even to contact.

“They have become the bane of our existence,” Kathryn Garcia, the city’s sanitation commissioner, said. “We have seen a significant uptick in the number of clothing bins placed illegally on public sidewalks. A dramatic increase.”

City law bans such bins from being placed on sidewalks and streets; they are legal on private property with the consent of the owner.

We do want to note that not all companies place their bins illegally. As the excerpt above notes, if it’s placed on private property, it’s okay – although it’s up to donors to determine if their clothing will go to a good cause.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile introduced legislation earlier this month that could expedite their removal, and see the companies fined for placing it on public land.

Rabbi Yaakov Weingarten

Yaakov Weingarten (Source: vosizneias.com)

A Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ordered Midwood Rabbi Yaakov Weingarten and his wife, Rivka, to pay more than $520,000 for setting up phony not-for-profit organizations claiming to benefit Israel and then using the donations as their personal piggy bank.

The Weingartens were busted last summer, accused of operating a call center out of 1493 Coney Island Avenue in Midwood to raise millions of dollars through 19 separate charities. The scammers claimed the funds would go to programs in Israel or to religious activities. But prosecutors say the charities never existed, and the funds instead went to Weingarten and his family.

Weingarten, 53, withdrew more than $2 million from the charity bank accounts between 2007 and 2013, prosecutors said. They used the funds to pay for mortgages on their two homes, remodeiling expenses, personal vehicles, video rentals, dental visits and even a trip to Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. They attempted to hide their shenanigans by transferring funds between the non-profit accounts. It appears the setup was too difficult for even the Weingartens to keep track of; they bounced more than 2,100 checks, resulting in more than $65,000 in donations being wasted on bank overdraft fees.

On Wednesday, the judge ordered the Weingartens to forfeit $522,315 as part of a civil judgement. Approximately $360,000 of those funds will go to two Israeli charitable organizations that carry out actual programs similar to the ones Weingarten claimed during his phony fundraising pitches to donors: the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, the preeminent pediatric hospital in Israel, and United Hatzalah of Israel, a leading Israeli volunteer emergency medical services organization.

Weingarten previously pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud, allowing him to escape time behind bars. However, he and his associates, Simon Weiss and David Yifat, are barred from any fundraising or charitable activites in the state of New York. He also faces five years probation, and has already paid $90,685 in restitution as part of the criminal charges.

The judge ordered the dissolution of 11 actual non-profits used by Weingarten, as well as eight that existed in name only. They are as follows:

  • Hatzalah Rescue of Israel, Inc.;
  • Shearim, Inc.;
  • Bnei Torah, Inc.;
  • Chesed L’Yisrael V’Chasdei Yosef, Inc.;
  • Yad L’Shabbat, Inc.;
  • Hatzalah Shomron, Inc.;
  • Pulse Foundation, Inc.;
  • Agudath Chesed Bikur Cholim Israel, Inc.;
  • Kupat Reb Meir Baal Haness Bnei Torah Eretz Yisrael, Inc.;
  • Congregation Yad L’Shabbat, Inc.;
  • Shearim Hayad L’Torah Center for Hatzalah L’Shabbat and Chesed L’Yisrael, Inc.;
  • Israel Emergency Center;
  • Magen Israel;
  • Hayad Victim Assistance Fund;
  • Lmaan Hatorah;
  • Our Children;
  • Zaka Israel;
  • Yaldel Simcha Yisrael;
  • Yad Yisrael.

“We are committed to fighting to protect everyday New Yorkers, particularly those who want to use some of their hard-earned money to support charitable causes, because there has to be one set of rules for everyone,” Attorney General Schneiderman said via press release. “My office will use all the tools at our disposal to protect New Yorkers from unscrupulous fundraisers for sham charities.”

relay4

Joe Gilette, organizer of the Bergen Beachh, Mill Basin and Marine Park chapter of Relay for Life, sent us a note and some photos of this year’s event, in which they raised approximately $100,000 for the American Cancer Society during their June 7 event.

Gilette writes:

We recently held our 3rd annual Relay for Life on June 7th. I am proud to say we expect our final tally this [year is] to total $100,000!! We owe a great deal of success to our FIGHT BACK WITH FITNESS program in which we brought volunteer fitness instructors into over 24 schools to hold fitness classes. This was all in furtherance of our agenda of spreading cancer awareness and prevention through the positive message of fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

relay6

By comparison, the 2012 Relay for Life event brought in $50,000.

relay1

Featuring live entertainment, food, raffles, and a variety of interactive and fun activities for the whole family, community members form teams and walk around Aviator Sports Center’s outdoor track for eight continuous hours, symbolically conveying their message that, until there is a cure, the fight against cancer never ends. It’s highlighted by the Luminaria Ceremony, in which paper bags decorated by neighborhood children are illuminated in memory of loved ones who have passed away from cancer.

relay2

The whopping $100,000 total is in addition to the $20,000 the group raised by putting together Brooklyn SINGS!, an inter-school SING! competition that pitted Murrow, Midwood and Madison high school students against each other for a good cause and bragging rights. The events Gilette organizes just keeps getting more diverse. Last year he also helped put together the world’s largest indoor zumba class, with more than 400 people participating.

Keep up the good work for a good cause!

To learn more about the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin & Marine Park Relay for Life, contact Nancy Colt of the American Cancer Society at (718) 622-2492 extension 5134 or visit their website.

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tete

The folks over at Tete-a-Tete Cafe (2601 East 14th Street) are teaming up with the Shorefront Y, the Kings Bay Y, the JCC of Bensonhurst and several other organizations to help raise money for area children with special needs.

From now until June 8 – exactly one month from today – the cafe will be donating 50 cents from the sale of every medium-sized latte or cappuccino.

The funds will go towards the Brooklyn Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative (BASDI) Fourth Annual Walk for Autism, which takes place on June 8 at 11 a.m. along the Riegelmann Boardwalk. The walk helps raise money for free programs for kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, helping Southern Brooklyn families who struggle with the financial burden required to meet their kids’ special needs.

Aside from buying some java, you can register to participate in the walk itself ($10), or donate money through the Shorefront Y’s website.

UPDATE (March 26): Organizers have added two more days to the sale: Thursday, March 27, and Friday, March 28.

These are the final days of the Friends of Gerritsen Beach Library’s first spring book sale since Superstorm Sandy devastated the branch in 2012. The library, located at 2808 Gerritsen Avenue, reopened in October 2013.

The organization has been doing book drives and sales for several years to raise funds for the local institution, with profits being used to help pay for programming and improvements at the branch.

So stop by and purchase a book, on either March 24 or March 25. Then you can donate them next year.

gerritsen-library

Friends of Gerritsen Beach Library (2808 Gerritsen Avenue) is in the middle of its first book drive since Superstorm Sandy devastated the branch in 2012. The location reopened in October 2013.

The organization has been doing book drives – followed by sales – for several years to raise funds for the local institution. They ask neighbors to drop off new or lightly used books, which they then sell off to pay for programming and improvements at the branch.

You should drop off any books between now and Wednesday, March 19. But, if you’ve got nothing to spare, you can always stop by and purchase a book during the sale days, on March 24 or March 25. Then you can donate them next year.

toys-14

The U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots local drive organized by Councilman Lew Fidler’s 41st Assembly District Democratic Club is again the largest such drive in New York City for the eighth consecutive year, scoring 7,750 holiday gifts for needy and disadvantaged children.

While the number is impressive, an even more impressive number came out of it: 55,430. That’s the number of toys collected in the 13 years since the drive’s establishment in 2001, when they first bundled together just 79 toys for kids.

The event will continue in the future, but it’s the final year that Fidler will preside over it as a member of the City Council. He’s term limited out come January 1, to be succeeded by Assemblyman Alan Maisel. As the event wrapped up, Fidler gazed over the mountain of toys that covered nearly half the floor space of his club from floor to ceiling.

“This is what the holidays are supposed to be about. Not throwing yourself a party, not drinking a lot of egg nog. Helping children, that’s what we do. It’s great to look at this mountain of toys,” he told Sheepshead Bites. “Today was my last Council meeting. Yeah, it’s bittersweet, but at the end you look back and you know you had a good run, you didn’t waste anyone’s time, and I didn’t waste my time, and it’s very gratifying.”

Read more about the event, and see photos and video.

Photo by Erica Sherman

It seemed to be just a matter of time before someone started wondering exactly how the millions upon millions of dollars that flowed in from charitable sources in the wake of Superstorm Sandy actually ended up being spent. And now State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is asking that very question, calling on dozens of charities to open the books on how they’ve spent millions of dollars raised to help storm victims.

Crain’s reports:

Some 40% of about $575 million in donations were unspent as of early April, according to an interim report Mr. Schneiderman’s office released Wednesday.

“It’s essential that both the donations and the distribution process be completely transparent and above board,” Mr. Schneiderman said. He said investigators in his office, which oversees charities, are still collecting information but have already seen suggestions of “serious problems in communication with donors and the distribution of funds.”

Mr. Schneiderman said his office is also interested in finding out how much money raised for Sandy relief actually went to organizational overhead or “non-Sandy” purposes.

In the interim report, the attorney general’s office said that charities and relief organizations that responded to a spring survey said about $238 million remained unspent as of early April.

“We understand that not every dollar can be spent right away, and some causes are best addressed over the long term,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

… In its report, Mr. Schneiderman’s office said that of the 89 organizations it identified as raising funds for Sandy victims or the rebuilding effort, 17 acknowledged that at least some of the money they raised in the storm’s aftermath would be used on charitable endeavors not directly linked to Sandy.

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