DETROIT (WXYZ) - Junk mail is something we expect in our mailbox, but those countless charity mailers really pile up. Often the charities are real, but many target seniors and if you’re on a fixed income, it could be trouble.
Self-addressed charity donation envelopes wanting a couple bucks for the cute kittens in a shelter or to save the endangered elephants can be a nuisance when they show up every day in your mailbox.
Also, those return address labels asking for a small donation for the stickers they already sent you. Donating to charity is great, but too many requests can put a strain on the bank account.
Mari Barnett lost her mother Rosemary in February to Alzheimer’s. She was a teacher in Southfield for over 30 years.
“My mom was a sweet lady who, she lived alone in Southfield. She had friends, and did dinners and played cards and traveled,” Barnett said.
Rosemary always donated to her favorite charities, but it started getting out of hand when she started giving more than she could afford.
“I pulled up in her driveway and I saw some mail, about 20 pieces of mail sticking out of the mailbox, which meant these were pieces of mail that she was sending back out,” Barnett said.
Barnett started talking to various friends finding out some of their elderly loved ones were also getting overwhelmed with donation requests. She believes her mom gave $3000-5000 over the last few years.
Barnett adds, “but it was becoming an obsession to her and I noticed she was starting to send money to these various companies, and after a while it just got more, and more, and more, she was getting 35-30 pieces of mail a day and going through it and it was just starting to pile up to a point where I had to make a decision to help her. Barnett talked to her mother and they decided to take steps by getting a P.O. box for her mother's mail.
Charitywatch.org is a nonprofit watchdog that advocates for your interests as a donor. They recommend to be selective in your giving. When you give to a charity or nonprofit group, enclose a note requesting your address is not sold or shared.
Also, write the charities directly and ask if they can remove them from their mailing list.
“If you have a parent or a grandparent that is living alone, and I would probably be pretty mindful about their finances and checking their mail” Barnett warns.