The American Red Cross announced this week it raised nearly $170 million for its relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy. But some of that money went where it wasn't needed -- or wanted. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
As images of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy came across the TV screen, many New Yorkers felt the need to help, including Brooklynite Linda Donovan.
"I was watching and like everybody else, you know you want to help, you want to do something," Donovan said.
Like many others, Donovan logged on to the American Red Cross Website to make a donation. She contributed a hundred dollars and specified it should be used for local disaster relief. But on November 20th she found a surprise in her own bank account:
"I made a small contribution to the American Red Cross and then a few weeks later I found a large contribution in my account from the American Red Cross," Donovan said.
The Red Cross put $4,950 -- almost 50 times what she sent in the first place -- into her account.
"Someone made a big mistake," said one New Yorker. "For her to give it back is very nice, especially around the holidays."
Donovan said she called the charitable organization to tell them they made a mistake. She followed up with an email and another call but the money stayed in her account.
"I don't know what to do with it," she said. "Do you donate it back to them? Or do you go ahead and take it and donate it to another charity?"
More than three weeks after the deposit was made, NY1 called the American Red Cross to find out what happened.
The organization said it was an isolated incident.
"Our donor customer service and accounting teams are working to resolve the problem and are in contact with the donor," Melanie Pipkin, a representative of the organization, said in an email.
Donovan said the Red Cross did finally get in touch with her following our call.
"It's ridiculous that an organization as large as the Red Cross would make those kinds of mistakes," one man said. "They got lucky that they found someone who was an honest person."
Donovan says she hopes the money will go directly to Sandy victims, where it's really needed.