BOSTON (AP) — Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling's plan to collect supplies and cash to bring to the victims of Hurricane Harvey is drawing criticism on social media from people who say donations should only go to legitimate charities.
Schilling said on Twitter on Wednesday that he would personally drive all donations to the Houston area on Friday and would put the money from what he's dubbed Operation Bullpen "directly" into the hands of people who need it most.
"I am taking ALL cash directly to victims, personally HANDING it to them to guarantee they get it," Schilling said on his Twitter account, which has 214,000 followers.
He also said he would broadcast his show on the conservative Breitbart News website from Texas next week.
Schilling, who pitched for the Houston Astros in 1991, has set up a trailer in the parking lot of a Medfield, Massachusetts, Shaw's supermarket to collect donations. He also is asking people to donate cash through PayPal. Boston area car dealership magnate Ernie Boch Jr. said he has donated $100,000.
In response to social media commenters saying donors should only support verified charities, Schilling tweeted: "No worries man. No need to donate if you don't trust where the money is going."
Schilling spent the last four years of a 20-year Major League Baseball career in Boston. While he'll always be considered a hero for helping the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years in 2004, he's become a polarizing figure for his conservative politics in the largely liberal state.
For years, he also was embroiled in litigation after securing a $75 million loan guarantee from the state of Rhode Island for a video game development company that went bankrupt.
Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Washington-based Center for Disaster Philanthropy, said in an interview Wednesday that it's natural for Schilling and other individuals to want "to be generous and be personally involved."
"But this isn't a moment for amateurs," he said. "I'm urging donors to support those organizations already on the ground and that have the expertise."
Fernando Martinez, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, which has 700 member organizations, said while Schilling is "well-intentioned," it's best to donate to charities that have been properly vetted and registered with the IRS.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, which oversees charities, said the office had no comment on Schilling's efforts but does offer a "dos and don'ts" guide on charitable giving that includes checking with the office to find out if a charity and its fundraisers are registered to operate in the state.