A local fire department is warning residents about a charity they say is a scam that's targeting its supporters.

You may have received a letter in the mail asking to support the 2019 Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment Drive. According to the Sloatsburg Fire Department, the mailing is a scam that is "full of inaccurate and misleading statements."

The letter is from the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance, based in Kansas. The organization does appear to be real, and clearly says on their website that they are "not affiliated with any local Volunteer Fire Department." But local firefighters say that people who don't read the fine print may not realize that they do not receive any of the donations that are made to this organization. Hudson Valley fire departments hold their own fundraisers and donation drives throughout the year and rely on that money to operate.

The Sloatsburg Fire Department reminds residents that if they really want to support their local volunteer firefighters they should donate directly to them. That way, the funds will stay in the community. While the letter may be legitimate the fear is that many people will donate blindly, assuming the money goes to the local community when it actually does not.

National organizations that collect donations for fire and police departments have been criticized in the past for not being clear about where the money actually goes. If you receive a call or letter from a group that claims to be calling on behalf of your local first responders, you should ask specific questions first to find out who is calling and where the donations go. Of course, the best way to make sure your donation counts is to make it directly to your local volunteers instead of to solicitors.

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