It seems like just yesterday that Jill (Duggar) and Derick Dillard announced that they were leaving their family in Arkansas to do extended missionary work in Central America. Since that time, the group has been collecting donations from fans that want to fund their work. But now, a few fans are calling for a refund.
The Dillard family set up the Dillard Family Ministry donations page, which the IRS has deemed a tax-exempt organization, to raise money for their missionary work. Fans can still go to the page and pledge a suggested minimum of $15 to fund Jill, Derick and their son Israel’s missionary work. However, in the three months since their tearful family goodbye in July, the Dillards have returned to the United States three times – the latest of which was to attend a fundraiser geared toward getting them more money.
It was previously reported that several of the fans that donated to the Dillard’s cause have been demanding the return of their donations after seeing the couple has spent so much flying back and forth to the U.S. for, what appeared to be very personal non-missionary reasons. According to the Duggar family’s official Facebook page, they hosted a going-away party/fundraiser Sunday to support the couple financially as they prepare to head back to Central America for the third time since leaving for their extended mission trip.
“Thank you to all our prayer and financial support partners who were able to join us last night for an evening of ministry discussion and fellowship! Thank you also to our financial partners who were not able to attend last night! We can't do it without you!” Derick wrote on Instagram. (A near-identical caption was posted on the Duggar Family’s official Facebook page as well.)
A lavish fundraiser isn’t exactly what the Dillard family needs at the moment amid the controversy regarding their spending habits. The family has not disclosed how much money its donations page has raised or exactly how each dollar is spent. As a result, when donors saw how many times they’ve returned to the states for family events, such as weddings, they started to ask questions.
In addition, Jill, 24 and Derick, 26, don’t seem to be doing much missionary work while they’re away. The normally social media heavy couple hasn’t really posted any encouraging photos of themselves spending their donor’s money to help people. Instead, Derick posted on the family’s blog that they’ll continue to study Spanish overseas. Derick previously earned a certificate for completing a level one class. Jill did not post about receiving the same certificate, but did recently get certified as a midwife. However, as the Inquisitr notes, it’s unclear if the classes are all the couple has had time for given their three trips in three months or why they needed to leave the country to study these topics at all.
"Jill, how did you spend my donation for your mission trip?" wrote one disgruntled commenter to the family’s Facebook page (via Entertainment Tonight). "Where are the pictures of the hospital, schools and bible studies you helped with? Can you post them so I can show everyone why I donated to your cause?"
Jill and Derick will next appear on a series of specials focused on both the couple and Jill’s sister Jessa (Duggar) Seewald. The specials will air on TLC, the same network that used to host the family’s popular reality show “19 Kids and Counting.” While no firm release date has been set for the specials, it was previously reported that the first is scheduled to air before the end of 2015. While there seemed to be cameras at the fundraising event, it’s unclear if they were with TLC.