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Pickens County's Country Santa has been recognized as one of Secretary of State Mark Hammond's 10 angels for 2008

It's the 13th year for the list of charitable organizations that are "angels" and "scrooges," according to the office of the Secretary of State.

The organizations for 2008 were selected by review of financial reports submitted annually to the Secretary of State's Office.

"The angels honored represent organizations that exemplify charitable giving in South Carolina," according to the secretary's office.

Criteria to qualify for angel status included that the charities must have been established for at least three years; collected revenue of more than $20,000; had 80 percent or more of the revenue go toward the charities' program goals; made good use of volunteer labor; and received minimal funding in grants.

The panel also sought to showcase charities with different missions and chose charities across the state and the country, according to the secretary's office.

Country Santa, also known as Buddy Cox, was the only honoree in Pickens County, and the secretary's office said 99.3 percent of Country Santa's program expenses went toward the program activities.

In the Country Santa program, Cox and an army of volunteers collect toys and deliver them to kids in need each Christmas.

In 2007, he and his elves helped 3,050 children, according to the Country Santa Web site.

Criteria for scrooges included that the charities had given 40 percent or less of the revenue to the charities' program goals; collected revenue of more than $20,000; had many complaints filed against them; and spent a large amount of money on the use of professional fundraisers rather than volunteers.

No organizations on the scrooge list were from South Carolina, according to the release.

The secretary's office said that before contributing, people should check organizations on the office Web site, or call 1-888-242-7484.

Greenville News - Monday, 11/24/08
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