McDougal's article went out of its way to distort the efforts of Hands Across America.
The issue that he raised is a legitimate one: What is the process for spending the money raised to distribute to the hungry and homeless?
First, we did not have a fairly complete sense of how much money we would have to distribute until mid-June. HAA's office had already received thousands of requests for grant guidelines and proposal formats.
To help sort through the questions of how best to spend the limited monies, HAA convened a meeting of some of the most respected experts from around the country. They recommended we involve local organizations in each state in a cooperative process, whereby the local groups work together to articulate how best to use the monies allocated to their state.
In Idaho, for example, 40 different organizations came together--putting aside their competitive instincts to fight over the money--and have submitted a joint proposal where the most needy will be served. This is happening in most states across the country.
These proposals are starting to come in now and we will fund them as they do. We anticipate spending $12 million--the emergency and intermediate monies no later than mid-February.
We learned in Africa that the monies raised can be spent quickly or right. We welcome input into refining our approach to distributing the monies. We only ask the media to describe the story straight, so people can make their own judgments.
MARTIN H. ROGOL
USA For Africa