How to Help Sandy Hook Victims' Families without Getting Scammed

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As the nation continues to mourn over last Friday's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the focus for many now is how to help the victims' families. Bay County father of three Jerry Register said almost immediately he knew he had to do something.

"Broke my heart thinking about the moms and dads whether their children were alive at the shooting, even finding their children knowing they're safe, what they must be going through," said Register.

Lead evangelist of "Only By Grace Ministries," Register is working with his fellow church members on a mobile billboard and several donation drop-off locations, all which the group said it plans to hand deliver to the Newtown community.

"Our hope is that is that it will let them know that there are people across America, here in Bay County, and all across the eastern seaboard who are grieving with them, and that we do care, and our hearts are broken with them," Register told NewsChannel 7.

There are countless other legitimate organizations across the country like this one that are doing what they can to help heal the pain. But unfortunately in times of tragedy, there's opportunity for deception. Bay County Sheriff's Office Major Tommy Ford said scam artists all too often thrive on people's emotions.

"It would not suprise me if these con-artists take advantage of this situation. It's disgusting to think that they would, but they're certainly out there," said Ford.

He said one way to prevent falling prey to scammers is to avoid dealing with anyone over the phone or online unless it's a reputable company.

"Right now is the text scam where you receive a text on your phone if you'd like to donate," Ford said.

The Better Business Bureau issued a press release in light of the tragedy. First you should do your homework. The BBB said researching before giving is key. Next, always select a charity yourself, cheaters tend to reach out to you. And finally, contact your charity of choice directly before donating. The BBB said following these three steps will help protect your wallet as you reach out to the families of the Sandy Hook victims.

According to the BBB if you'd like to donate, you can contribute to a victims’ family fund through a joint effort between The United Way and Newtown Savings Bank.

Donations may be sent to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Banks
39 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470

If you'd like to help through "Only By Grace Ministries," click on the link below.

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