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Don’t be deceived, Planet Aid in it for itself

Dear Editor,

It’s doubtful that Planet Aid’s KC manager, Bryan Thompson, knows much about the controversies involving his employer. In response to your recent article, Mr. Thompson simply played the good employee and attempted to paint Planet Aid in a positive light. I respect him for that, but I have no respect for Planet Aid. None.
Mr. Thompson obviously cares about his community, and of people in need, but his examples were more a reflection of his own moral character, not of Planet Aid’s. The bread he mentioned was not purchased by Planet Aid, it was going to be discarded had it not been for Mr. Thompson’s quick thinking. And even though many children in the Kansas City area are in need of winter coats and backpacks, those are items not typically needed by Planet Aid’s customers. Most of their clothing is sold in Africa and Central America, tropical zones.
Planet Aid will frequently partner with other groups, but this benefits Planet Aid more than the partner. They will put a box on school property, call it fundraising, and give the school a paltry one or two pennies a pound. Just recently Planet Aid partnered with Care Of Poor People, a local Kansas City charity that has a homeless outreach program. For one week, in 4 boxes, all the clothes donated go to COPP … but Planet Aid gets the clothes for the rest of the year. In my opinion, this is using the schools and COPP, not helping them.
It’s no wonder how Planet Aid has managed to expand into so many communities; they have a well tuned sales pitch. Just donate your used clothes and shoes! Help kids in Africa! Build schools! Pay for development projects! But it doesn’t take too much research to discover that very little funding actually makes it to those charity projects. And this is not just my opinion, but the conclusion of the Danish government and our FBI. Most of the funds, sadly, get diverted into private use, such as the luxury properties in Miami once used by Tvind’s top leaders, or their new $10 million complex in Mexico.
Besides claiming their actions as helping poor people overseas, Planet Aid also has a green environmental plea. How many of you believed Mr. Thompson when he commented that it was “statistically proven” that only 15 percent of textiles go to charities and that 85 percent end up in landfills? Really? Are 85 percent of clothes simply tossed into landfills? Of course not. Planet Aid twisted the data for its own gain. The truth is, the EPA classifies the collecting of used clothing as reuse of nondurable goods, which has nothing to do with the textile recycling data. According to the EPA, they don’t even quantify clothing-reuse numbers … and I got that fact straight from an EPA representative.
I’ve researched Planet Aid, and all of Tvind, for over four years. There is no doubt that when a Tvind group moves in, donations to local charities go down.  And when this happens the most common question I get asked is “How do I get rid of them?” Good question, and good luck, because there is no easy solution and no standard procedure to follow. Even I, with all my knowledge and my big mouth, haven’t been able to rid my town of Planet Aid. Still, I’d like to give you a bit of advice if you want to see less yellow in your community … stop donating. It sounds too simple, but the truth is Planet Aid will not keep boxes in areas that don’t pay out. Tell your friends, tell your families, and ask the business owners to get rid of the boxes. Hopefully, there will be no reason for Planet Aid to stay.
Thank you for allowing me to speak, and special thanks to Jerry McCarter for alerting his community.

– Kris Alonge, Kansas

5 Responses to Don’t be deceived, Planet Aid in it for itself

  1. Ruben Valdillez

    April 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Regarding comments by Kris in Kansas about Planet Aid. It’s unfortunate that non-factual statements about Planet Aid continue to misinform and mislead the public. Planet Aid has contributed nearly $70 million to developing nations on three continents since it started collecting used clothing in 1997. It’s difficult to understand the motive behind unsubstantiated claims against Planet Aid involving foreign governments and the FBI. Ask yourself, if any of these allegations were true would Planet Aid still be operating today, 15 years later? Would the IRS continue to grant non-profit charitable status to Planet Aid year after year? Would USAID, the U.S. government’s largest grantor of food aid to impoverished nations, grant Planet Aid a 3-year, $20 million contract to provide school food aid and teacher training in Mozambique as it announced on April 2, 2012? I don’t think so. Planet Aid is sought after by domestic and international foundations, corporations, and governments because of its track record of providing health, food, medical, education, and farming support to impoverished communities. I suggest readers visit http://www.planetaid.org to learn more about how this organization truly operates, and its history of helping those that survive on less than $2 a day.

  2. Wade Larsen

    April 18, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Mr Valdillez, the sad answer to why Planet Aid continues to thrive is because many of the governmental and private organizations that donate to Planet Aid aren’t looking closely. Pity that more people haven’t seen the following unfavorable news reports on Planet Aid. (Just highlight a title, right-click it, then select “Search Google…”. The article or video you’re looking for should be at the top of the search results):

    1) FOX 5 Investigation: Planet Aid
    2) Planet Aid: Charity Denies Cult Connection
    3) Charity Watchdog Accuses Planet Aid Of Misleading Its Donors
    4) Team 4: Why One Charity Gets An ‘F’ – Pittsburgh News Story
    5) News investigation of Planet Aid clothes charity – part 1
    6) News investigation of Planet Aid clothes charity – part 2
    7) Planet Aid’s charity work draws worldwide scrutiny | Boston Globe
    8) USDA suspicious of Danish aid organisation | Jyllands-Posten
    9) CBS4 News in Boston investigates Planet Aid clothes charity

  3. Kris in Kansas

    April 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Mr. Valdillez, I happen to agree with you. It is unfortunate that non-factual statements about Planet Aid continue to misinform and mislead the public….so stop doing that! The only misinformation is coming from you and Planet Aid. As far as the USAID giving a grant to Planet Aid…that was the USDA. See? The misinformation is from you, not me. As far as the $70M sent to developing nations…those funds were all sent to fellow Federation members. And according the FBI file, obtained through a FOIA request, “In each of these organizations the funds are ultimately controlled by captioned subjects who divert the money for personal use. Little to no money who divert the money for personal use.” The captioned subjects referred to are eight Teachers Group top members who were under indictment by the Danish government for tax evasion. Though most were acquitted of those charges, there is a second case where five of these same people face current charges of fraud and embezzlement. One person has already been found guilty, and served jail time. Mr. Valdillez, you referred to the IRS granting PLanet Aid non-profit status year after year…the IRS granted Planet Aid non-profit status once in 1997. The IRS does not review Planet Aid’s case unless someone with a lot of clout files a complaint, and then it takes several years to get anything done. I suspect that you already knew that. Have complaints been filed? The IRS does not comment on that. Period. I have read Planet Aid’s original application for non-profit status. In my humble opinion, the IRS messed up. You have the opinion that the USDA’s continued support of Planet Aid validates what Planet Aid supports. It doesn’t. I’ll trust in research and facts, such as those presented by a different government agency…the General Accounting Office. In report GAO-11-544, the GAO gives a harsh review of the USDA’s grant procedures and monitoring practices. Basically, the USDA relies solely on what Planet Aid reports and believes the results that Planet Aid claims. There is no real monitoring being done at all. I’ll take the GAO’s “opinion” over yours, Mr. Valdillez. After all, you’re a paid spokesperson for Planet Aid…or is that another unsubstantiated claim printed n an uninformed newspaper?

  4. maria stivers

    April 25, 2012 at 6:52 am

    My two cents on Planet Aid: If Mr. Valdillez honestly believes that because government – “the authorities” – deems an organization fine and dandy, that this automatically insures IT IS SO, he did not follow the Enron and Madoff scams too closely, did he?

    I suggest he re-visit the disturbing details of systematic failures of “the authorities”, including government regulators and top accounting firms (remember Arthur Andersen?), and appreciate that “red flags” signifying corruption and crime should never be ignored, as they so often are.

    I also suggest he visit the American Institute of Philanthropy (which gives Planet Aid an “F” charity rating) and familiarize himself with the disturbing details of the largest charity scams in US history. He will appreciate that all these organizations too had their “Good Housekeeping” seals of approval…before they were shown to be fraught with fraud and fraudsters. http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/CharityWatchHallofShame.html

    There are enough red flags flying over Planet Aid and all the other interlinked Tvind/Teachers Group organizations operating in the USA to fill a football field. “The authorities” are ignoring all of them.

    On the test of excellence in due diligence, the USDA deserves an “F”.

  5. Wade Larsen

    May 11, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Many cities across the U.S. are also grappling with the donation bin issue. The link below is to a video of a May 8, 2012 Oakland City Council meeting that discussed the bins. The discussion starts at about 8 minutes into the video. Incidentally, the two organizations with clothing donation bins that were discussed at the meeting — USAgain and Campus California — are said to be linked to Planet Aid: http://oakland.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1030

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