MARCO ISLAND, Fla. - The Salvation Army will not accept a $100,000 donation from a Florida Lotto winner because its local leader didn't want to take money associated with gambling.
David L. Rush, 71, announced the gift last week. He held one of four winning tickets in the $100 million Florida Lotto jackpot drawing of Dec. 14 and took a $14.3 million lump sum payment.
Maj. Cleo Damon, head of the Salvation Army office in Naples, told Rush that he could not take his money and returned the check, which another official had accepted.
``There are times where Major Damon is counseling families who are about to become homeless because of gambling,'' said spokeswoman Maribeth Shanahan.
``He really believes that if he had accepted the money, he would be talking out of both sides of his mouth.''
Rush also donated $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity and $50,000 to the Rotary Club of Marco Island. Both groups accepted the gifts.
``Everybody has a right to be sanctimonious if they want to be,'' said Rush. ``I respect the Salvation Army's decision. I do not agree with it, but that is their prerogative.'' He said he has been giving money to the Salvation Army, an evangelical Christian organization, for 40 years.
Rush sees the lottery, which has raised billions for Florida schools, as something other than a typical gambling organization.
``There's no bigger gamble than investing in the stock market,'' said Rush, a financial adviser. ``For them to say this is gambling is an overstatement.''
By Albert H. Lee