It would be far better for charities if residents wrote their checks directly to the groups they want to support, rather than funneling money through a firefighter or police union, so it could be donated — if donated at all — in the union’s name. At least they’d know that 100 percent of what they donated would go to charities, not to professional fundraising firms or to free drinks for firefighters in a hospitality tent.
Seriously, who would have donated a dime if Salem firefighters had been honest about what they were doing with the money they pleaded for?
Some departments have banned such fundraising as unseemly, and it is high time that other departments followed suit. If public safety unions genuinely want to donate money to charities, they can donate their own money.
Residents and businesses have great respect for the firefighters and police officers who risk their own safety to protect others. We are grateful for their courage, dedication and compassion — and that is why, when asked, we donate to their campaigns. But we do so believing that the money raised will go to a good cause — not to line the pockets of a fundraising firm or pay for a social event for union members.
The Salem union violated that trust, wasting money that the public donated in good faith. In the long run, their campaign did far more damage than good.