Following is story printed in today’s Racine Journal Times…mine was first…but their’s is better (and with less curse words LOL)…
RACINE – People who participated in a pin-up calendar, or bought it thinking it was for a good cause, are wondering where the money went.
More than two weeks after a fundraiser where proceeds were promised to the Racine County Food Bank, food bank officials said Monday they have not seen a check from the organizer, though a few participants have directly given money they collected for selling the calendars personally.
Lesslee Betchkal, who produced and organized the 2011 Racine pin-up calendar fundraiser, said it hadn’t made “enough money” to give yet, in one of several Facebook messages responding to Journal Times inquiries. She did not respond to repeated requests for interviews over the phone or in person, saying she is out of town.
Betchkal approached the food bank after the Jan. 8 event to say she still planned to donate the proceeds once she sold more calendars, according to Chris Geary, president of the food bank board. Betchkal said she hopes to have more release parties to sell the remaining calendars for $10 each.
Betchkal said last week she only sold 121 calendars at the initial calendar release party on Jan. 8. She previously told The Journal Times about 200 had been sold at the party.
The sale of 121 calendars, at $15 each, would have netted $1,815 to be donated to charity.
Betchkal previously said all production costs, about $1,200, were paid for by about 73 local businesses who bought advertisement slots in the calendar at about $25 per ad.
But Betchkal said last week that the sales did not cover the expenses to be able to donate “a sizeable amount” to charity, which she specified as $400 or more.
She did not respond to requests for further clarification, instead saying: “People’s money will and always was intended to go to the charity, but when you don’t sell … you have to cover costs before you can give to anyone.”
According to figures Betchkal provided The Journal Times on Friday: Total expenses, including hair and makeup, for the photo shoots, DJs at the event and more, was $1,626 and the total printing cost was $2,720. She did not respond to requests for receipts until Monday night, saying she plans to gather the receipts at the end of this week.
Dan Packee, owner of Print-n-Press, a printing company in Milwaukee, said they printed 2,000 pin-up calendars for $2,112 plus an ad in the calendar. He said Betchkal provided a $1,000 down payment and he was supposed to receive the rest of the payment following the event earlier this month. But as of Monday, the balance was still due.
The fundraiser also initially caused some controversy because it named the food bank as the recipient in its promotions although the food bank had not sanctioned the calendars or the event.
Women featured in the calendar expressed concerns about what they feel is a lack of transparency regarding collected funds.
“We want the money to be accounted for,” said Nicole Norby, 35, of Racine, who is Miss November. She said she donated her time and her father, who owns Norby & Sons Moving, had donated his vehicles and motorcycles thinking it was a fundraiser for the food bank.
“I want to see the money go to the food bank,” said Monica Bruce, a 36-year-old registered nurse from Racine who is Miss April. “That’s why we did this.”
Amy Arendt, a 31-year-old from Caledonia who is Miss June, said she became concerned because the numbers just didn’t add up.
The three donated the proceeds from the calendars they had personally sold after the event directly to the food bank.
Food bank Executive Director Dan Taivalkoski said on Monday he received checks from the three for a total of $915.
Betchkal had previously told The Journal Times a separate account would be set up for the money collected from the sales at Educators Credit Union.
On Monday, Jim Henderson, senior vice president of ECU, said he could not confirm whether or not such an account had been set up, citing privacy laws.
“There seems to be a lot of conflicting information,” said James McGarity, a 43-year-old engineer from Racine who bought a calendar. “But basically, I guess the question that’s going around is, ‘Where’s the money?’ ”
In a Facebook message, Betchkal wrote there are no unaccounted funds from sales of ads or calendars and added they are close to meeting their costs “and then from there on out it’s all charity.”
You can find this story and comments HERE