Florida Gift Giving Guide

Tis the season of giving and the season of soliciting. This time of year we're bombarded by solicitations to give, but how do you know which charities are legitimate, like the Salvation Army, and which ones are scams?

Florida Consumer Services has published this gift givers guide which lists almost 10,000 charitable organizations this year.

"So when people give those organizations money they know we're keeping track of how much money they're taking in and where that money is going," says Charles Bronson, Agriculture Secretary

The guide can make you a better educated consumer, and charities which are legitimate like the United Way and the Salvation Army welcome it.

"I encourage people to look at administrative cost and to look at local charities," says Ken Armstrong of the United Way of the Big Bend.

"It lays out the agencies who try to help people and the public has gotten more wise over the years on who they should give to. They want to see how their money is being spent. I think that's great. It keeps agencies on their toes," says Capt. Alan Phillips.

Charities depend on your goodwill during the holidays. This is when they collect most of their money, but before you reach for your checkbook, a quick check with this book can tell you if your money will be well spent.

You can find out about charities by calling 1-800-HELP- FLA or access the guide for giving online at www.800helpfla.com