'Pink bags' pop up, prompting concern in some Hamilton County neighborhoods
A Better Business Bureau warning against mysterious pink bags spotted in several local neighborhoods has prompted some concern over a non-profit's accreditation.
The pink bags appeared in neighborhoods across Hamilton County, leaving residents and local officials wondering who is behind them and whether it is a legitimate cause.
The answer to that question depends on who you're asking.
Earlier this week the BBB issued the warning about NSPIRE Outreach, the organization responsible for distributing the pink bags.
"We find this a little bit of an uncharacteristic type of request for donations very subtle with some level of pressure in my view," BBB President Jim Winsett told Channel 3.
The Lawrenceville, Georgia-based nonprofit is soliciting clothing donations to help domestic violence victims according to its Executive Director Gregg Kennard, who also serves as a Georgia House of Representatives member.
"The pink bag is a clothing campaign that resources our domestic violence program for moms and children," Kennard told Channel 3.
Police officials in East Ridge and Signal Mountain also issued their own warnings alarming some neighbors like Dennis Floyd.
"I honestly don't know what to trust anymore. All the other scams and people trying to scam people out of money, it's just me being hesitant," Floyd said.
But NSPIRE Outreach Kennard says it was all just a misunderstanding.
"Certainly there's enough of the scam operations out there that makes people suspicious, but we're the real deal. We've been in operation for 20 years--12 years as a program. We've served thousands of people," he explained.
Winsett says they issued the warning because NSPIRE Outreach was listed as "did not disclose" on their website--meaning they didn't provide information requested by the Better Business Bureau, and that the 501C3 was fined by the State of Tennessee in 2014.
"What's key in charitable donations to the Better Business Bureau 'Wise Giving' organization is charities be transparent and they be accountable. In this case they're being neither," he said.
Despite the $45,000 fine, the organization is currently in good standing with the Tennessee Secretary of State's office to date, according to its website.
Winsett told Channel 3 he didn't believe NSPIRE Outreach was a scam, but felt their practices were questionable.
"You think, 'well, are they picking up items to go sell to some thrift store', but again you don't know what's taking place here," he said.
The group is one of several non-profits that are not accredited with the BBB.
The Better Business Bureau recommends only giving to charities you trust.
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