WASHINGTON – Every week, George Eyler takes $10 in single bills and gives them to 10 different needy causes.
Going through his mail one day, the Pikesville resident noticed a letter from the Clinton Legal Expense Trust and, soon enough, another dollar was on its way to the president.
Eyler is one of four Marylanders who gave a single dollar in the first six months of this year to help Clinton pay his legal fees, according to data from the trust.
The trust has raised about $6.3 million nationwide since early 1998, with $383 arriving in the form of single-dollar donations. That’s less than a hundredth of a percent of the total — but don’t tell the dollar-givers that they are not helping.
“I get $200 a month in Social Security and I gave a dollar back,” said William Markley of Westminster. “I don’t think that’s a bad deal.”
Ruth Erhart of Havre de Grace and William Pruitt of Conowingo were the other dollar donors in Maryland in the first half of 1999, according to trust records.
They are polar opposites of another four Marylanders who this year have each contributed the maximum amount the trust accepts, $10,000.
Trust administrator Peter Lavallee said small donations make up the biggest chunk of the trust: More than 95 percent of the trust’s donations are $100 or less.
Of Maryland’s 1,095 individual contributions, 1,055 of them — more than 96 percent — were for $100 or less, totaling $38,583.27. The other 40 contributions totaled $52,355.
“Does any one contribution make a difference? No,” said George Klamm, a Rockville resident who gave $5. “But if a million people give what they could, that would sure make a difference.”
In addition to the 10 singles, Eyler said he also gives $10 to his church every week.
“That’s $20 a week to charities,” said Eyler, who is retired. “I think that’s pretty good.”
Eyler thinks Clinton has done an “all right” job and that “we could have had a better president,” but he said Clinton was unfairly prosecuted.
Lavallee said he did not think single-dollar donations were meant to send any message. Rather, he said, they come from people who are just trying to help out.
“The vast majority come from people with limited means who want to contribute to a cause they believe in,” he said. Erhart agreed.
“I don’t mind donating as long as I have it to spare,” she said. “But I’ve got bills to pay.”