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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How can I be sure that Help the Helpless is a legitimate non-profit?
We are a 501c3 in good standing and approved to operate by the IRS of the United States. We have been in existence since 1997 and are registered with the charities division of the state of Minnesota. We conduct an annual audit of our finances, which is sent to the Attorney General of Minnesota. We file a 990 IRS report that shows all donations received, the expenses of Help the Helpless, and the amount of money sent to St. Mary’s. This report is available to the public upon request.

Who is Help the Helpless?
We are a 100% volunteer-staffed non-profit formed in 1997 to help St. Mary’s School and Orphanage in southern India care for handicapped, deaf, abandoned and poor children.

Who are the members of your organization?
Help the Helpless is lead by its president, Father Robert Altier (a Catholic Priest), and its board members are Dr. Terence Coyne (Vice President), David Krause (Secretary), Joe and Kay Foht (Treasurers), David and Rocio Huizel (Assistant Treasurers) and Father Carl Kaltreider (Board Advisor).

What does St. Mary’s School and Orphanage do?
St. Mary’s School and Orphanage cares and educates handicapped, abandoned, deaf and poor children in southern India.

How did St. Mary’s start?
Father Antony Savarimuthu (an Indian Catholic Priest) founded St. Mary’s School and Orphanage in 1992 to provide shelter, care and education for handicapped children, many of whom were living on the streets. Since then, St. Mary’s has expanded and also cares for deaf and very poor children.

How is St. Mary’s funded?
St. Mary’s is funded solely by the benefactors of Help the Helpless. Since St. Mary’s is a Catholic Christian organization, it is not eligible for Indian government support as it is against Indian law to support a Christian organization.

If I donate to Help the Helpless or St. Mary’s, where does my money go?
Operating expenses of Help the Helpless are normally below 5% of donations received, so 95% or more of what you give goes directly to St. Mary’s School and Orphanage in India.

How can I be sure that Help the Helpless is a legitimate non-profit?
We have been in existence since 1997 and are registered with the charities division of the state of Minnesota. We conduct an annual audit of our finances, which is sent to the Attorney General of Minnesota. We file a 990 IRS report that shows all donations received, the expenses of Help the Helpless, and the amount of money sent to St. Mary’s. This report is available to the public upon request.

We, along with other non profits, are rated by an independent organization called Charity Navigator--America’s largest independent evaluator of charities. Charity Navigator has given us its highest rating for fiscal responsibility and management. Click here to see it.

If I donate to Help the Helpless, will my name be sold or shared with any other organization?
No. We hold our benefactors’ names in strictest confidence and do not share or sell their information to any other organization. Nor will you ever receive a direct appeal for money from us.

How can I help the children of St. Mary’s?
- Please pray for Help the Helpless and St. Mary’s mission to the children.
- Sponsor a handicapped child for $180 a year or a poor child for $120 a year.
- Donate to support the annual operating budget for St. Mary’s.
- Donate to the building fund so facilities can be constructed to house more children in need.

If I sponsor a child what can I expect?
Sponsors of children will receive a welcome letter from Father Antony and a picture of the child with a brief family history. You will also receive a newsletter from Father Antony and a letter from your child at Christmas, Easter and late summer. You also can send letters or email (email preferred) to your child directly to St. Mary’s in India.

I want to sponsor a child; what are my options for paying support?
You may pay for your child’s support as best fits your personal situation, whether that’s annually, semi-annually, quarterly or monthly. We also can set up automatic monthly credit card debits or bank account debits. If interested in automatic debits, please contact Janet toll-free at 877.762.8857 and she will set everything up.

Where do I send my donation?
Donations can be made online via PayPal or you may send a donation to our mailing address:

Help the Helpless,
P.O. Box 270308,
Vadnais Heights, MN 55127.

Child sponsor and donation forms are also available here and in our brochure. Please do not send donations directly to St. Mary’s in India as they may be stolen in the Indian postal system. Often, even if check does get through, it must be forwarded back to Help the Helpless in the U.S. for proper recording and banking.

If I forget to make a monthly support payment, will you remind me?
No. We have limited staff and are not able to send out reminders. We rely on the good nature of our benefactors to make payments. We do provide address labels that can be used as reminders, so let us know if you would like us to provide them.

Can I send money or gifts to my sponsored child in India?
Yes, but please do not send money or gifts of value directly to India, as they will be stolen in the Indian postal system. Cards, letters and small items of little value will arrive safely at St. Mary’s, but items of value will not. If you wish to provide your sponsored child with a gift, we suggest you let Help the Helpless know. We will handle everything on your behalf. Send us a note that you wish to give your child a gift (Christmas, birthday, etc.) along with the amount that you wish to spend. If you have a specific item in mind for the present, let us know (though many choose to leave it up to Father Antony to purchase what is appropriate for the child). We, in turn, will forward your request to Father Antony and he will buy the gift locally, ensuring that your sponsored child receives it.

Will Help the Helpless forward cards and letters to India for me?
Yes. We send items via large envelopes to St. Mary’s every 2 weeks. Please forward to: Help the Helpless, P.O. Box 270308, Vadnais Heights, MN 55127 along with a note requesting us to forward the card, letter or small item.

Can I get an updated picture of the child I am sponsoring?
Father Antony has decided to have pictures of the children taken each year and forwarded to sponsors. This is a new program brought about by requests from benefactors and is just getting started in 2009.

Are the children that come to St. Mary’s Catholic?
Very few. Most are Hindu and a small number are Muslim. All the children are taught the Catholic faith, attend daily mass, pray the rosary and pray for their benefactors 5 times each day. It is against India law for Fr. Antony to approach any child to become Christian and no child is forced to become a Catholic. Many children become Christian after they have graduated from St. Mary's and a small number will ask Fr. Antony to baptize them while still in school. That is how the Laws of India work regarding Christian conversions.

Can I adopt a child through Help the Helpless/St. Mary’s?
No. Our mission is to care for the needy children and help them become self-sufficient young adults. Adoption would take us into new areas that we have little knowledge of regarding working with various Indian and U.S. government agencies.

I noticed that you also have some colleges. Why is that?
A teacher’s training institute and colleges of education were started for the continued education of those students at St. Mary’s schools who showed ability in those fields. Many of the handicapped and poor are excellent and dedicated students. Father Antony started the colleges when state-operated institutions did not want to admit students from St. Mary’s. Due to the success of the colleges, they are now open to non-St. Mary’s students for a tuition fee. This is a win-win situation. As handicapped and poor students get to study with normal students, they gain greater confidence. In addition, Father Antony has established a source of revenue to offset some of the operating costs of St. Mary’s.

Will Father Antony celebrate Masses for benefactors and friends of Help the Helpless?
Yes! Father Antony, other priests that assist at St. Mary’s and a retired Bishop celebrate Masses for the intentions of our benefactors and friends. Mass stipends are $7 to $10 per Mass, based on what the requestor feels is appropriate. If you need a Mass said for an intention and cannot afford it, please let us know and Father will do a Mass for no charge.

What are Gregorian Masses?
Gregorian Masses are for the deceased and are 30 Masses celebrated in 30 consecutive days. Gregorian Masses originated with Pope St. Gregory the Great, where he related in his “Dialogues” that when he had finished a series of 30 Masses for a departed monk, he received a visitation from this monk, who told him he had been released from Purgatory and entered into Heaven. Mass stipend is $300 and is often celebrated by the retired Bishop.

 
 
 
Help the Helpless is a 501c3 Non-profit Organization | P.O. Box 270308 Vadnais Heights, MN 55127
651.762.8857 or 877.762.8857 | E-mail: info@helpthehelpless.com