DENVER (CBS4)– Calendars featuring firefighters are supposed to raise money for children who are burn victims, but a CBS4 investigation questioned where the money really went.
Now the founder of the organization behind the calendars, Kirsten Hamling, is being investigated for possibly keeping some of the money.
The calendars have been an annual event for years to raise money for young burn victims, but the future is doubt after the entire volunteer board of Fired Up for Kids has resigned, according to its now former president.
The calendars sold for $20 each and clearly state “… benefiting Children’s Hospital” but now Hamling is claiming through her attorneys that it was really a “for-profit organization.”
The current issue of the calendar states it is a Denver-based “non-profit” group, but on the organization’s website, the word “non-profit” has been deleted.
The Articles of Incorporation on file with the Secretary of State also indicate Fired Up For Kids is a non-profit for purposes in the IRS code for nonprofit tax exempt corporations.
When CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger asked, “They state on their website as of this past July that they raised $375,000, should they have filed that with your charity division?” Rich Coolidge with the Secretary of State’s office replied, “We would certainly like to discuss that with them.”
The organization has applied to the IRS for what’s called 501(c)(3) status in which charitable donations are tax deductible. But CBS4 learned although it had applied, Fired Up for Kids was never granted that designation. That means all donations to the organization for its events and calendar may not qualify as tax deductible, as donors may have thought.
A Fired Up For Kids web page from 2010 state “all proceeds” from the calendars go to the Children’s Hospital burn center. Now that site simply states “…a portion of the proceeds” benefit the burn center.
Hamling’s use of the Fired Up For Kids debit card is under examination. Those expenses include a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., a fitness center, a pet store, restaurants, groceries, liquor, a nail salon and more.
A statement from Hamling’s attorney reads in part, “At no times did she mismanage funds or withhold funds from The Children’s Hospital and vehemently denies all allegations to the contrary.”
“We want them to know how much of their contribution is going to the stated purpose of the donation,” said Coolidge.
When asked if Fired Up For Kids provided any of that, Coolidge replied, “No, we have not been able to ID any of that information.”
The beneficiary of the firefighters calendar is the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation. It said it wants to uphold the public trust and selfless work of the firefighters and volunteers and that its priority is to safeguard the charitable contributions made by the donors.
No charges have been filed.