Unknown Group Soliciting Money in Aiken County

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December 28, 2005
News 12 has received numerous calls in recent weeks about people standing in the road and asking for your money. On Wednesday they were at Belvedere-Clearwater and Edgefield Roads, just outside the North Augusta city limits. News 12 went out to investigate to find out if it’s a legitimate organization.

Those of you that have seen them say they’re out here on a regular basis but many of you are wondering just who they’re with. So News 12 asked.

“We’ll send you an introduction package about this ministry that way you’ll have it in writing,” the solicitor said.

Sound vague enough? We thought so, too, but it didn’t stop him from working.

“If you’d like to give that’d be great because it’s a blessing for you and for God’s house,” the solicitor said.

So we tried again.

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t shove that camera in my people’s face while they’re working,” the solicitor said, walking away.

The sign on their bucket reads ‘New Life Church.’ The man we spoke to says they once had a church in North Augusta but it was shut down. Denise Adams, who works nearby, says she gets the same runaround.

“They’re not saying who they are, it makes me cautious of who I give my spare change to,” Adams said.

Lt. Bill Manecke with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says any legitimate charity or church has to be registered with the state.

“Have to have tax IRS, the exemption number,” Manecke said.

So we logged on to South Carolina’s Secretary of State database to find out. We typed in the words “new life” and several organizations came up, none located in Aiken County. And because these guys are soliciting in the county’s jurisdiction, Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Frank says there’s nothing criminal about what they’re doing unless it’s impeding traffic and they haven’t received any complaints.

So what’s the best advice? Well it’s a simple one.

“If they’re not sure, don’t give,” Manecke said.