Guthrie Chamber Of Commerce Sends Out Warning

Thursday, May 15th 2014, 10:05 pm
By: News 9

As organizations come forward to help those affected by the Logan County wildfire, there is a new warning for victims and those who want to help them.

About 60 properties in the area are damaged or destroyed. That means a lot of people are in need, but the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce says it's important to do your research before making or even taking a donation.

"Sadly we have to be overly cautious sometimes," said Lucy Swanson, Executive Director of the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce.

Last week, a wildfire ripped through Logan County, destroying homes and killing a 56-year-old man.

"If you're going to give out of your own wealth, you make sure that it's going into the pockets of the people that you're really trying to help," said Swanson.

"We have protocol. We have a board. We have committees," said Tonia Allen, Regional Dir., America's Disaster Relief. "I have to do everything by the book."

Allen says she's been helping Oklahomans for more than a year now. Her organization is one of several that came into the state last year with a goal to help "long term."

"We just want to help the families," said Allen.

But, Allen admits, that help has come with concerns from not only residents but now from Guthrie city leaders. She says it's been a struggle to prove she's not a scammer.

"I think proof is more in your actions than your talk," said Allen. "Call the Attorney's Generals office. Ask, ‘Have we been investigated?' Check with the Secretary of State."  

Allen says her organization is helping three families affected by the wildfire.

"This is passion. I'm not going anywhere. We'll just continue to prove ourselves," said Allen.

"Sometimes, people that really are good meaning and good hearted might get shut out," said Swanson. "It's because of the bad ones, you know."

News 9 did check with the attorneys general's office, and the secretary of state. America's Disaster Relief is a legally registered organization in the state, and so far, there hasn't been any negative reports against it.