You Ask. We Investigate.
Churchgoers ask for money on the side of the road: Who are they?
KGUN9 viewer wants to know if their cause is legit
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - They stand on street corners across Tucson, holding signs with references to a church and asking for your money. One 9 On Your Side viewer sees them all the time around town, didn't know what they're about and asked us to investigate. He wanted to know: Is their cause legitimate? Where do donations go? 9 On Your Side talks to the organization.
On the corner of Grant and Wilmot Friday afternoon, a man who goes by “Jumping Jak” held a sign, which asked drivers for a donation.
Jak is one of about a dozen people who do this on corners around Tucson weekdays and weekends.
The 9 On Your Side viewer wanted to know: What exactly are they doing and where exactly do donations go? Their signs aren't exactly clear. The one Jak held read: "Donations to help rebuild lives!"
9 On Your Side found Jak is a member of a Tucson organization called Church on the Street
, formed about a decade ago.
“We have a lot of people who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior and they've fallen off the bandwagon,” senior pastor Tim Booker said. “They come back and we invite them in.”
Booker explained many members of the church have problems with alcohol or drugs when they join the Christian organization. What do members do?
“We have Bible studies in the morning, prayer meetings in the morning, Bible studies at night, prayer meetings at night,” Booker said, explaining the structured program members participate in.
Booker said members also fundraise to help pay for their stay, which can be 10 days or six months, at a house on the south side. They do car washes, landscaping, construction projects and collect donations on corners. Booker said money raised also helps pay for meals for the homeless served twice a day.
9 On Your Side wanted to know more about the organization and found it is a charity registered with the IRS
with “public charity” status. Other records show it has official 501(c)(3) status, but charity rating Web sites had little to no additional information about it.
“The one thing that we would tell consumers is any time they're solicited by a charity on the street, maybe don't give to them right there on the street,” LaFleur said. “Go home, check out the charity, see what you find out, contact the charity--if you have to--check out our Web site. Find out where the money is going, how much of that money is going to be used for what the solicitor says it's going to be used for. Then, if everything checks out, go back and make your donation. But just do your due diligence.”
Booker said he welcomes any questions and people can visit a Web site
or pick up a pamphlet for more information.
“I'd be glad to explain it to them,” Booker said. “That's why I’ve got my (phone) number (posted) and we've got pamphlets out there. They hand them out.”
9 On Your Side also wanted to know what city code states about this type of activity. The Tucson Police Department was unavailable for comment. Tucson city attorney Mike Rankin said there is an ordinance against soliciting from drivers, but his office hasn’t received any complaints about Church on the Street so there's been no investigation of any kind. Read the ordinance online
. Search for section 20-501 with the title “prohibited conduct.”
Church on the Street is searching for a building to house its members, hold worship services and serve meals. Contact Senior Pastor Tim Booker at 520-312-0967 if you'd like to help.