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WORLD TRADE CENTER CHARITY

Charitable Response of Americans to WTC Attack: Generous, or Simply Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?

October 15, 2001


Americans have sent nearly $900,000,000 to the various charity funds set up to help victims of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks.  The universal acclaim we have afforded ourselves for generosity, however, may not be so well-deserved.

First of all, there are 105 million households in the United States.  So the average donation per household to WTC charity is less than $9.  That doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice, does it?

Second, there may be no sacrifice being made at all.  The New York Times reports that contributions to small charities throughout the nation have drastically declined in the weeks since September 11.  For example:

  • the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Cleveland used to average $2500 a day in donations.  Now they get $370
  • the Washington, D.C. annual AIDS walk raised one-third of the amount it did last year
  • an agency that runs three shelters for the homeless in Houston reports donations down 35%

As a result, charity organizations and programs such as these across the nation are being forced to lay off staff and turn down people seeking assistance.

This is at a time when layoffs and other economic disruptions from the terrorist attacks have actually increased the number of Americans requesting help these smaller charity groups.

So while sending money to charity groups to aid the World Trade Center and other September 11 victims is admirable, let's not pat ourselves on the back too quickly.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul is nothing to be proud of.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

More on World Trade Center Charity

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