I-Team: Inspired to give to veteran charities this Memorial Day? Here’s how to find the right one

Making sure your money goes to good causes
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 5:48 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - Memorial Day may inspire you to give to charities and organizations that help veterans, but unfortunately scammers want to take advantage of that kindness.

BBB Serving Connecticut wants to remind people how to know when a charity is accredited, like Work Vessels for Vets.

The nonprofit based in Southeastern Connecticut helps injured veterans start businesses all across the country.

“Since 2008, we have helped 2900 injured veterans with about 3.9 million dollars worth of equipment in all 50 states,” said Cathy Cook, Work Vessels for Vets executive director.

The nonprofit helped the company ‘Mystic Oysters’ get afloat in 2018. The business harvests thousands of pounds of fresh oysters every year.

“Dominion millstone powerplant in Waterford called me and said they were getting a new research vessel, would we like the old one?” said Cook.

Work Vessels for Vets gave the research Vessel to Marc Harrell at Mystic Oysters.

Cook knows with so many veteran charities out there, it can be hard to know who is actually helping.

“Unfortunately, there are those bad actors who will stand out a supermarket with a box and say ‘give to the veterans’, and you know what, it doesn’t go to the veterans,” said Cook.

BBB Serving Connecticut says you should always take the time to do research before donating to any charity.

Give.org is a great place to start. BBB accredits charities just like it does businesses. They have to meet 20 requirements. You can go on there. You can look up a charity, and you can decide for yourself whether that’s a charity that you’d like to give your money to,” said Kristen Johnson, BBB Serving Connecticut director of communications.

If you look up ‘Work Vessels for Vets’, it is accredited and meets all 20 standards for charity accountability.

Cook is proud of that.

“Our real claim to fame honestly, is our overhead is less than 1%. Less than 1% of all the donations that come in are used for any kind of overhead for the business,” said Cook. “”It’s a pretty extraordinary nonprofit.”

Work Vessels for Vets is hosting its 15th birthday party at the Mystic Oysters location in Noank on July 14th. Tickets will be available online closer to the event date. Last year’s event raised more than $10,000.