1. Archive

"Starving farmer' not likely to send help letter

I am told you accomplish the difficult right away and the impossible only takes a little longer.

Please refer to the enclosed poignant letter from Mr. Berame in the Philippines. I would like to help but cannot verify his cry for help.

Is it possible to find out if his need is legitimate? How on earth did he obtain my name and address?

G. A. L.

Response: Your last question is the tip-off.

A starving farmer from the outlying Philippine island of Palawan is not likely to spend money _ enough to buy a meal for his entire family _ on postage to send a sad letter of appeal to a stranger at random. Where did he get your address? And where did he learn to put together a sentence like "Your donation _ Mercy is Divine Work helping to the poor needy lepers," followed by "Thanks in advance," and then, "God Bless America Save The Philippines from Japanes (sic) Empire."

No doubt there are needy people in the Philippines. There are needy people all over the world. There also are con artists all over the world.

It would be very difficult to track down this person on an outlying island. Asking him to send verification would accomplish little because we are told that official documents can be acquired for unprincely amounts in the Philippines.

It is very possible that this man or an organization with which he is associated has acquired a mailing list of people who have made charitable donations in the past.

Americans are known to be among the most generous in the world. Americans who travel extensively in the world's poorer countries say they are constantly besieged with requests for help. And if they leave behind an address, they are apt to get letters like the one you received.

Send the man money if you like, but our suggestion is that you continue donating to organizations, local and worldwide, that are willing to provide regular reports of their charitable activities and are willing to be held accountable for their finances.

The National Charities Information Bureau provides a list of national charities that meet its standards in a Wise Giving Guide brochure. Get your free copy by writing the bureau at 19 Union Square W, Sixth Floor, New York, NY 10033-3395.

Check local charities with Pinellas County Charitable Solicitations Officer Charles Connolly at 530-6200.

Superman poll got 1,204 responses

Regarding Tom Zucco's Superman Poll in the St. Petersburg Times in which readers were asked to vote on whether Superman should live or die, I see where 92 percent voted to save his life and 8 percent said bump him off.

How many people actually voted in this poll?

Tom Takach

Response: Zucco says he counted 1,204 votes.

Antique dolls presumed lost in mail

I ordered three antique dolls from Peggy Dooley at a cost of $100, plus postage. She said they were sent on June 15 through the mail. They didn't arrive. On June 20, she said she would put a tracer on them. After that the U.S. Postal Service contacted me and said they were checking on it but they never did find those dolls.

I am a senior citizen near 80 and don't care to be treated like this. But then, who does?

She should have sent them UPS or insured them. I would settle for half the money I paid.

F. L.

Response: Peggy Dooley admits that because she did not ship the dolls either certified or insured, most of the available options have been exhausted.

Her lawyer says there is a reasonable presumption that items placed in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service, when not returned to sender within a reasonable time, were actually delivered to the addressee.

The San Angelo, Texas, Postal Service says they were mailed to St. Petersburg, and the Atlanta dead letter office didn't get them so it is fair to assume, Mrs. Dooley says, that you probably received the dolls. In any event, there is no proof that you did not receive them, she says.

However, in the interest of fairness she is willing to take the position that you didn't get them and so she was reluctantly sending you a check for $50.

We'd say that's real obliging of her. Since she's the one who goofed she's lucky you are not demanding a full refund.


Thanks to your intervention we received today the belts and buckles ordered June 7 from Value by Mail _ a 13-week wait!

If it weren't for you we would still be waiting. Merci beaucoup!

Elizabeth Garbay