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Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST CHARITY

American Refugee Committee

When you hear the phrase "American Refugee Committee," what do you picture? Sally Struthers teaching a big-eyed, bony-kneed child? Jimmy Carter reading poetry off the back of a white U.N. Jeep? Push those images aside, if you will. Because when you give your money to this Minneapolis-based charity, you can have a pretty good idea what you're getting. For one, your donation won't go to build a new conference room to host events to raise more money to build another forum. To wit, 90 percent of American Refugee Committee's funds go to its programs in Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Balkans, Darfur, Guinea, Liberia, and Uganda/Sudan. And your money probably isn't going to a Western aid worker, either. Ninety-five percent of ARC's 2,100 employees are either refugees themselves or local citizens. These good souls do their far-flung share of building shelters, digging clean wells, treating opportunistic diseases, and unloading food by the ton. But ARC's commitment is a broader and longer-lasting one. Whether it's providing micro-business loans to women in Sierra Leone or opening legal aid clinics in Guinea, this nonprofit tries to rebuild the foundations of a functioning community. Still not sold? Among the many things to admire about American Refugee Committee is that it posts its most recent tax filings in a prominent spot on the ARC website—a rare gesture in an era in which overseas boondoggles trickle from the White House on down. Visit the website yourself and see if the numbers add up.

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