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Each fall brings with it cooler weather and the colorful change of seasons. For Goodwill and other non-profit organizations, we also welcome the giving hearts of the holidays and the reminder that New Year’s Eve is the deadline for tax-deductible donations.

Less welcome is another annual guest: a distorted social media message designed to harm reputable charities during this season of hope. It features amateurish graphics emblazoned with the headline, “Think Before You Donate.”

Donors should indeed ponder which charities they choose, but they shouldn’t base their decision on phony claims from an internet meme that repeatedly has been debunked by reputable websites such as http://snopes.com (http:// http://bit.ly/1tJhvjw).

Its falsehoods about Goodwill are especially troubling. These include the claim that Goodwill is “owned” by a man named Mark Curran, who receives an enormous salary at the expense of the charity’s mission.

False. As a non-profit organization made up of 178 worldwide autonomous affiliates, including Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA, Goodwill doesn’t have an “owner.” Each affiliate is governed by an independent, volunteer board of directors – and no one named Mark Curran has ever been associated with any Goodwill.

Additionally, Goodwill’s mission doesn’t suffer from overpaid executives. More than 86 cents of every dollar in our Goodwill’s revenue fuels its life-changing mission of providing education, job placement and career services.

You can find those services in any Job Connection, where nearly 25,000 job-seekers received free assistance from Goodwill just last year. Sometimes the narrative includes the false claim that Goodwill operates at the expense of individuals with disabilities.

This simplistic attack takes aim at the federal special minimum wage program, which helps vulnerable members of society experience work and the dignity of a paycheck. Of the more than 423,000 individuals with severe disabilities employed through this program nationwide, fewer than 2 percent work for any Goodwill.

Besides: None of our Goodwill’s employees earn less than minimum wage. In fact, more than 84 percent of our Good Vocations employees at Fort Gordon and Robins Air Force Base have moderate to severe disabilities, and earn an average wage higher than $10 an hour. That isn’t just admirable; that’s phenomenal.

We hope you’ll agree, and remember these facts when making decisions about your own charitable giving. Please think before you donate. When you do, we hope you’ll consider donating and contributing generously to Goodwill.

Kevin Pethick

Board Treasurer

Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA