Looking for holiday help on Craigslist
12:00 pm
Wed December 24, 2008

Looking for holiday help on Craigslist

A popular website for buying and selling things in the Charlotte area has lately become a marketplace for people in need of something more.

"I know a lot of people out there are struggling," says one message posted in the wanted section of Charlotte's Craigslist. "But if there is anyone out there that can help us, we would be forever grateful." The anonymous person says he and his wife have lost their jobs, their cars and their house.

It's just one of dozens of pleas for assistance posted on the local Craigslist in the last few weeks. Some of the messages have been flagged by other users as a possible scam, but many appear to be legitimate.

Margaret Morton of Albermarle posted a request on behalf of her neighbor - a struggling single father and his two children. He's out of work and out of money, says Morton:

"I wasn't exactly sure where to go to ask for help, cause I have no idea, and I know that I'm on Craigslist every day," says Morton. "And I'd seen other posts similar to that and I thought that was a good way to try to find any suggestions to try to find him help."

Morton says her neighbor turned red with embarrassment when she told him about her post on Craigslist. But in just 48 hours she's had several offers for help, including a woman who's planning to give the family a full turkey dinner for Christmas.

The largesse is impressive, but Doug Hartjes of the Crisis Assistance Ministry says people should be careful dealing in donations on Craigslist.

"I've used Craigslist myself to buy and sell items, but Craigslist is not designed as a portal to provide assistance to people in need," says Hartjes. "There are other resources for people seeking help or who want to help that I think are probably more reliable and more safe to make sure the money goes to where it's absolutely most needed."

Hartjes says a better alternative for people in need and for those who want to help out is to call 211 and ask to be referred to programs in the community that offer everything from rent and utility assistance to holiday presents and food.

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