PSI: Where do the donations go? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

PSI: Where do the donations go?

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A white box truck rolls up Interstate 77. There's nothing remarkable about it and at quick glance it's hard to figure what it has to do with David Arthur.

"I did crack cocaine and pain pills," said Arthur.

He was an addict, his family life was falling apart and he was headed to jail.

"I went from a clean record to four, or five felonies on my record," said Arthur.

More time behind bars? Another shot at rehab? Arthur faced a choice. He was at a crossroads as in Crossroads Rescue Mission in Shelby.

"It was embarrassing because I had been there before," said Arthur.

But this time was different. Arthur found faith and he found a purpose.

"Not only did I change the addiction," said Arthur. "I changed who I was."

Arthur now works for Crossroads. Sometimes he gets paid, sometimes he doesn't. The place is hurting financially, donations have been dwindling.

"66 percent of our incomes is the thrift store," said Arthur.

And there is more competition than ever for donations for clothing. Bins, where people can drive up and drop off donations, can be found near Crossroads, near Arthur's house. They're everywhere.

"People are not investigating what they are donating their money to," said Arthur.

The one closest to Arthur's house is for a charity called "Children's World Hope Foundation."  It's website says it help lots of places and people. Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston Salem confirms the foundation has helped provide parties for children and their families while they're in the hospital.

The website also claims to help Second Harvest Food Bank. A spokesperson says they've near heard of the foundation and is unaware of any donations.

It takes us back to the truck cruising up I-77. It was labeled "Children's World Hope Foundation." We followed it all the way to a warehouse in High Point which was the foundation's mailing address.

A man who says he's a volunteer for the organization tells us the foundation has 350 bins around the state. He says the donations are mostly sold to a broker.  The cash earned is then put into the charity.

The foundation's website lead us in another direction, to a Dr. Bradley. The website says she's a dermatologist  and "A Founding Director" of the foundation.  Her first name is Julitta. She lives in a subdivision in Huntersville.

We went to the door of the home. The doctor was in, but she told us we needed to talk to her husband, Todd Vickstrom. She said he'd "be happy" to answer our questions about the foundation.

She gave us a phone number and we called it, getting a voicemail.

WBTV has learned Vickstrom previously had a charity called "Childhood Dreams Foundation." In a 2010 tax filing it claimed $426,111 in donations. $159,094 went to pay people working for the foundation. Then came a whole bunch of other expenses. Rent, cost of the truck, fuel, insurance, supplies, travel and more added up to $236,400. It left just $27,867, or 6.5% of the contributions, to help people.

The Better Business Bureau says its accountability standard is that 65% go into actual programs.

Vickstrom did not return our calls. A return visit to his home found no one there, but the foundation's website was recently changed. A new tab on the home page was titled "A reply to media attention."

It says "They began running this ad campaign on TV before even contacting us."

If the post is referring to WBTV its not true. WBTV visited the Vickstrom home and left voicemails starting Friday, April 26th. Promotional ads for the report began the following Monday at 11 P.M.

The website goes on to say "as founder of the organization I have intentionally striven for anonymity."  It also says "These few letters posted...acknowledge donations, not the donor, often it was not done in the name of Children's World Hope but, the names of directors or anonymously".

The North Carolina Secretary of State's Office is now sending letters to Vickstrom. The state is denying him a charity license until he complies with a number of state requirements. They include providing a list of officers and directors, a list of program activities and all required financial information.

In the meantime, Arthur continues his work with Crossroads. He's hoping donations pick up because there are others to save from the depths of addiction. and there other lives to save, like Crossroads did his.

"I would be in prison, or dead," said Arthur. "There's no other option."

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