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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Documentation of alleged theft committed against Fort Smith non-profit Pay it Forward

Fort Smith food insecurity non-profit Pay it Forward has filed a complaint with Sequoyah County authorities after it was discovered a that former member of the Board of Directors took donations in the name of the charity and failed to deliver several hundred dollars worth of the product that he and his son picked up on March 11 in northwest Arkansas.

Chuck Martin, a self-proclaimed Muldrow minister who heads up something called Chuck Martin Outreach Ministries, served on the Pay it Forward Board of Directors for approximately two months after getting involved with the organization in February. He and his son Scott, who was appointed to the position of Head of Procurement, were involved with two "Blessing Bag" events in which they went out an solicited donations from the public.

"I was thrilled to death with their involvement at first, although looking back they were several things that should have put us on alert," said Darla Lackey, president of Pay it Forward. "From Day One, there were other board members who expressed concerns, but all I saw at first was a guy with some contacts that was able to get us some wonderful donations so we could feed out people."

As it turns out, the donations Martin was soliciting in the name of Pay it Forward did benefit Pay it Forward, but the Muldrow man was also taking a "cut" of the product without the permission of knowledge of the organization. A total of 27-cases of product never made it from Simmons to Pay it Forward.

"We asked him for invoices from the pick-up for over three weeks, and he refused to produced them" said Lackey. "Other board members insisted I contact Simmons to get a copy of the invoice and we received it last week. We knew immediately that there was product that was unaccounted for."

Here is the original copy of the invoice furnished by Simmons for the product picked up by Martin on March 11:

According to Pay it Forward, two items on the invoice were never delivered to the non-profit and five of ten donated cases of a third item went missing between Siloam Springs and Fort Smith.

Given those numbers from the donor, more than 900 pounds of product was not delivered to the non-profit.

Today in Fort Smith has confirmed that Martin picked up the product in the name of Pay it Forward. When first confronted about the missing product Martin claimed the donation was made to him personally and not the charity and he basically "did the charity a favor by giving them part of 'his' donation.

In addition, on the same date product was picked up at the McKee Foods production facility in Gentry. PIFFS has determined that $186 worth of product (nine one-pound trays) failed to make it to the organization.

"We have contacted McKee to see if that product was piked up in our name as well," said Lackey. "As of Wednesday morning we were still awaiting a response."

At least two other board members have confirmed that Martin, since the beginning of his association with Pay it Forward, had talked to them about him starting his own "charity" Several people who received blessing bags in February and March said Martin was touting "Chuck Martin Outreach Ministries" to them while they stood in line at events to get food.

"There was even a social media post by him claiming we weren't helping people from Oklahoma," said Lackey. "We have never turned anyone away at our events."

"In my opinion, he was using our name and our non-profit status in order to build contacts and find donors for his proposed outreach," said Lackey. "He told some of our board members that his non-profit status had been approved back at the March giveaway."

However, as of 1 p.m. April 8, 2020 there is no accredited 501c3 charity associated with Chuck Martin or Chuck Martin Outreach Ministries in Oklahoma according to the Oklahoma Secretary of State.

One member of the PIFFS board said that martin even solicited them to "quit Darla and come help me with my charity" in late March.

'There is a pattern of untruthfulness and deception that I am both disgusted and humiliated about," said Lackey. "This man stood among groups of our clients offering up 'prayers' before the two events he was involved with."

Lackey said the latest setback is just another dagger in the heart to the grassroots organization.

"As I said before, at least part of the stolen product wound up at a church and was distributed to families in need, so that food served the purpose of our mission," said Lackey. "We just would have liked to have had a say in where it went."

Pay it Forward has largely been funded trough personal donations, one small grant and out of Lackey's pocket since the beginning.

"We always welcome donations of food and/or product or cash donations," said Lackey. "We're working on securing the services of a grant writer and looking into getting a small group of churches to provide us with a monthly stipend to help us pay the rent and meet other expenses."

"I just have to laugh to keep from crying,"said Lackey. "They say what doesn't kill you just makes you stronger. It's that's true, I should be the strongest woman in the world at this point."

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