As part of its new "Days of Giving" program, Wells Fargo distributed $1,000 to eight local non-profits, including the Memphis Union Mission and the Vance Avenue Youth Development Center, at the Memphis Botanic Gardens this morning.
But demonstrators with the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center were on hand to ask the lending giant to pay the more than $60,000 it owes Memphis and Shelby County.
By looking at foreclosures, deed transfers, as well as board-ups, demolition, and grass cutting fees, the group found 30 homes and 15 properties that Wells Fargo owes money on.
The city of Memphis also has a lawsuit pending against Wells Fargo that alleges the company engaged in predatory lending practices.
"They owe $60,000 in back taxes, fines, and fees for grass cutting," said Brad Watkins with the Peace & Justice Center. "That's just the data we had. That's not the whole of it. We don't have any data from 2010."
City taxes are due at the end of August. Since county taxes are due this month, the group chose not to include 2010 delinquencies.
"They just kind of left these open sores in our neighborhoods," Watkins said. "Now they want to get around it with throwing a little money around."
"We're happy to address their concerns at the appropriate time," said Wachovia Communications Consultant Jamie Dexter. "We're going to dig into this and listen to what they have to say, but today is about celebrating these groups. That's what we're focusing on."
The grants — including $40,000 to five statewide organizations chosen by the company's customers — were part of Wells Fargo's merger with Wachovia. Each Wells Fargo banking store chose a local non-profit to get $1,000.
Barbara Nesbit with the Vance Avenue Youth Development Center said the money would do a lot at the all-volunteer center.
"Buying clothes for the children. Food. Getting our computers fixed," she said when asked what specifically they would use the $1,000 for. "But food is number one. We're a home away from home for the kids."
The eight $1,000 grants were given to: Autism Solution Center Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis, Memphis City Schools Foundation, Memphis Union Mission, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Street Ministries, Vance Avenue Youth Development Center, and Women Identity Purpose Organization.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital also received an additional $15,000 for being chosen by Wells Fargo customers. The Tennessee Food Banks got $10,000, and the American Cancer Society for Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity, and the American Red Cross each received $5,000.
Dexter says they hope to make "Days of Giving" an annual event.