Letters: Joe and Flo, Randy Adams, Charities

Sheilah Kast reads from the listener e-mail bag. Topics include reader reaction to Michael Chandler's story about her elderly grandparents, Joe and Flo; to the saga of Katrina evacuee Randy Adams; and a critique of charities. Also, three corrections.

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Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typewriter)

KAST: In some cases it's a federal crime to read someone else's mail, but Scott and the WEEKEND EDITION staff say they don't mind.

Last weekend, independent producer Michael Chandler told the story of her grandparents, Joe and Flo, as they struggled to stay together in the same nursing home facility. WEEKEND EDITION got an overwhelming number of e-mails about this story. Jeff Fieldsj(ph) from Boston wrote, `I suppose I could try to be objective in explaining what was so moving about the story, but that would be futile. The story toyed with the fundamental aspects we all strive for in our lives: to love and be loved. All my appreciation to Michael Chandler and the rest of Joe and Flo's family for creating this fragile powerhouse of a story.'

Week before last, the show mentioned a study of girls in the UK who mistreat Barbie dolls. That prompted Celeste Royce(ph) of Newbury, Massachusetts, to write. She says it `brought back fond memories of days spent launching Barbie and her car over cliffs in the back yard, dismembering Barbie and spreading ketchup on arms and legs, and other prepubescent wacky activities. I'm sure Barbie abuse in the UK has been going on since the 1960s. I do worry about children using microwaves, though.'

Several of you responded to the Christmas Eve interview with New Orleanean Randy Adams and his continuing effort to rebuild his life after Hurricane Katrina. Becky Bell(ph) in Hermon, Maine, writes, `Listening to yet another segment of Randy's life journey after Katrina while I ran last-minute errands on Christmas Eve morning brought me front and center to the meaning of the season: the resilience and ability to see light within such perceived darkness. This series on this man is more a tapestry of soul than anything else, each segment a thread of a different color coming together to create something beautiful in the end.'

Before the holidays, we spoke with Daniel Borochoff of the American Institute of Philanthropy. His organization rates charities on a scale from A to F based on how they use donations. We received this letter from Barry Gardener(ph): `Mr. Borochoff simply doesn't understand Feed the Children. His carefully worded denunciation on the air explained that the majority of Feed the Children's cash income is used for administration and fund-raising. That's true. They use the cash to raise and distribute over $865 million in products to people who need them. What Mr. Borochoff failed to tell listeners was the products, not cash, comprise the vast bulk of Feed the Children's philanthropy.'

We asked Daniel Borochoff to respond. He wrote, `The American Institute of Philanthropy gives favorable ratings to many other groups that receive large amounts of in-kind donations, such as World Vision. That organization efficiently uses the cash contributions they receive. Feed the Children uses only about 2 percent of the cash contributions it receives in the shipping, handling, storage and distribution of goods, while 60 percent of its cash is spent on fund-raising, infomercials and mailings.'

And three corrections. In a December 24th interview with James Levine of the Boston Symphony, WEEKEND EDITION called composer Arnold Franz Walter Schoenberg a German. Ach(ph)! He was Austrian. We also suggested that Herman Melville's novel "Redburn" was published in 1894. We got that backwards. It was 1849. And we said the philosopher Seneca was Greek. We were wrong. He was Roman.

Send us your letters or corrections by going to our Web site, npr.org. And please, tell us where you're from and how to say your name.

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