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3-On Your Side: Charitable Giving On The Web

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- We hear all the time about dangers with the internet and warnings to be wary of the web, but there's also a lot of good going on these days. As 3-On Your Side's Jim Donovan explains, more and more sites are starting up with the goal of helping others and using the power of social media to change lives.

The Rewolinski's family does what they can to help others, but when they needed help recently, they were blown away by the response. Angela Rewolinski says, "We've never experienced so many people coming together for us and that was just life changing for us to know there are people that want to and do care." Thousands of people around the world heard about the Rewolinski's after they read about their need to protect their sons. Both have autism. They wanted to buy a specially trained dog. Within weeks the web site organizers surprised the family with a "love drop" of more than $13,000 enough to cover the fees for the dog. Rewolinski says, "People were giving up coffee drinking for a month and using that money to give to money for us."

Love Drop, Give Forward, Mommy Niri Cares, and Drop A Love Bomb are just a few of the growing number of sites created with the goal of connecting readers with people and a good cause. The Love Drop founders put a twist on internet giving, sometimes leaving money out of the equation entirely, with readers passing along comments of compassion instead of cash. Love Drop Co-Founder Nate St. Pierre says, "I wanted to use the same kind of idea from micro-giving in terms of time and attention and love."

"A lot of these sites, it's basically one or two people that really want to help and they don't want to go through the bureaucracy, and now, because of the power and the ease of creating your own site, they're able to very much personalize the giving options for people," says Ken Berger with Charity Navigator. He says that because it's so simple to set up sites he expects to see more and more created. but he also says that means you have to be careful with these kinds of charity causes, too, especially when they ask for money. According to Berger, "The challenge or the dangers is that because it's so easy to do someone of ill will that wants to create something that's really a fraud can just as easily do so. that's why we always say 'use your head as well as our heart so your heart doesn't get broken.'"

Berger suggests you make sure it's a valid site that you're dealing with, a site that also confirms true need with recipients. But he's also quick to stress that if you're only giving a dollar you don't have much to lose. That's fine with the love drop guys, who are very happy to take your dollar and match it up with thousands of others for good. St. Pierre says, "I get to get up every single day and know that everything I do is making an impact, it's literally changing the world." One dollar at a time, one person at a time. Leaving Rewolinski to say, "I don't think there are words to even express the thank you, just that our lives are changed."

Love Drop is always looking for compassionate people to help. if you know of anyone with a good heart going through a pretty tough time right now, let them know! They continually review nominations and each month they choose the person or family they feel the community can help the most.

For more information on the sites mentioned in this report visit:

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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