From blankets and books to stuffed bears, there is no shortage of offers to help the families of Sandy Hook from right next door to around the world.
But according to Newtown Public School District's Web site, the Board of Education has specifically singled out one fund — organized through Newtown Savings Bank and the United Way of Western Connecticut — in lieu of other gifts. The Sandy Hook School Support Fund has been set up to provide direct monetary assistance to families of victims and the community.
Newtown Savings Bank CEO John Trentacosta told Patch that the fund came together as a response to countless requests.
"We had no experience of dealing with anything of this magnitude," he said, so the bank reached out to the United Way. "They agreed to help us be custodians of the fund."
Newtown Savings Bank and the United Way are planning to form an independent advisory board that will make decisions on how to get the money out, Trentacosta said, but bank and foundation officials won't make the final call. More likely, he said, everyone from town religious leaders and PTA members to Board of Education members and first responders will have a say over how the funds are used.
The United Way has come to aid in similar situations in the past, including in Littleton, Colorado. "There's a tremendous amount of need," Trentacosta said. "... A lot of individuals can't go back to work after that."
The bank can't disclose how much has been raised so far, but support has been widespread and the United Way has been utilizing the press and social media to spread the word.
"You have to understand — this was done as a reaction. People wanted to know how to give," Trentacosta said. "We're not actually doing an active solicitation ... What we're trying to do is be responsive and helpful to our communities and the citizens who were impacted by [this tragedy]."
To contribute to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, visit the United Way's donation page.
Funds Set Up for Newtown, Sandy Hook
Text-to-Give Will Support ‘Sandy Hook School Support Fund’
NEWTOWN, CT (December 18, 2012) — As people from across the nation and around the world respond to the heartbreaking tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they are turning to United Way looking for ways to help. In response, United Way of Western Connecticut, in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank, has created the 'Sandy Hook School Support Fund.'
This fund will be able to provide support services to the Newtown/Sandy Hook community. A local board of Newtown community leaders is being convened to determine how the fund is most needed and best utilized. As of Dec.18, more than $1.35 million has been donated to the fund.
To donate online, please visit https://newtown.uwwesternct.org. You can also support United Way’s ‘Sandy Hook School Support Fund’ with a $10 donation by texting NEWTOWN to 80888.
United Way of Western Connecticut is not applying any management fees to donations to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. The only fees being applied are the external processing fees charged to United Way (i.e. credit card fee, Text-to-Give fee) by the company processing the transaction.
“United Way extends our most sincere condolences and prayers to all those families affected by the devastating events in Newtown/Sandy Hook, Connecticut,” said Kim Morgan, CEO of United Way of Western Connecticut. “At this time of great need, we are humbled to give people a place to support the Newtown community. We would like to thank our loyal donors and our corporate partners who support our year-round work, which allowed us to be in a position to respond to this unforeseen tragedy.”
“United Way of Western Connecticut is also asking communities throughout the country to consider honoring the memory of the children and educators sadly lost in our community by supporting local youth and education programs in your community in their name,” Morgan added.
There are additional ways to show your support.
Fairfield County Community Foundation is accepting contributions to address the ongoing mental health issues in Fairfield County and working with victims' families to establish charitable memorial funds. To support ongoing needs and family funds, please visit http://www.fccfoundation.org.
Newtown Youth & Family Services is accepting donations to support Sandy Hook Elementary School victims through Caroline's Gift, established in 1996 by a Newtown family in memory of their daughter Caroline. The fund's charitable purpose is to assist Newtown families coping with the physical and mental health needs of their children. To donate, please visit http://newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org.
For immediate support, Connecticut families can dial 2-1-1 or visit www.211ct.org.