New funds spring up to aid Newtown victims

Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:44pm EST

Flowers for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School rest at a memorial in Newtown, Connecticut December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Flowers for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School rest at a memorial in Newtown, Connecticut December 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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(The following contains some information from a Dec. 17 report, but adds a new fund and details)

By Chelsea Emery

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New funds are springing up to aid families, first responders and others hurt by the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Universities, professional groups, even individuals are pooling resources or creating scholarships for those who survived the attack or those who are struggling put their lives back together after losing children, friends or colleagues.

After all, bills must still be paid even as parents take days off work to arrange the unthinkable - funerals for their young children. Those who tried to help the victims may need financial or emotional support as they struggle with depression after a shooter took the lives of 20 children and six adults. Scholarship funds in the memory of those who died may provide solace for many.

If you are seeking a way to help, there are a plethora of options. But remember that in the wake of tragedy come many good acts and a few scams.

Also your money may not always be used as you, or the victims, hope. Indeed, families of people killed and wounded in a shooting rampage inside a Colorado movie theater in July said in August they were being denied a voice in how $5 million in donations raised to help them was being dispersed.

So donate through long-standing and well-known organizations or wait long enough to check the bona fides of a new one.

Here are some ideas for how you can contribute:

--Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund ( www.easternct.edu/advancement/soto.html )

Upon learning that Eastern Connecticut State University alumna Victoria Leigh Soto had died trying to protect her first-grade students, the school on Monday created the fund to support students who are preparing to be elementary school teachers. The fund is so new that the specific criteria have not yet been determined, said Edward Osborn, director of in the office of University Relations.

"We wanted to start raising money as soon as we could," said Osborn. "We will obviously not use the funds to award scholarships before criteria are in place."

-- My Sandy Hook Family Fund (here)

Set up by the parents of children who survived and other locals, this fund will help with funerals, as well as ongoing living expenses such as food, mortgage payments, daycare, insurance and fuel until they are back on solid ground.

-- Newtown Memorial Fund (here)

A fund founded by Brian Mauriello, who describes himself as a long-term Newtown resident and a parent, to pay for short-term expenses as well as a memorial and a multi-generational foundation fund for the Newtown community.

-- Sandy Hook School Support Fund (newtown.uwwesternct.org/); c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

This fund was set up by United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Savings Bank to provide support services to the affected families and community. Among other efforts, it will support day and night walk-in hours at the Newtown Youth and Family Services Counseling Center (here).

-- The Newtown Rotary Sandy Hook School Fund (www.newtownctrotary.org/); PO Box 263, Newtown, CT 06470

Dedicated to supporting the immediate and long-term needs of those in the Newtown community who were affected by the Sandy Hook School shooting.

-- Individual victim funds

The families of several victims have asked that memorial contributions be made to a variety of favorite charities, and some have set up their own family funds.

Among them are:

--The Victoria L. Soto Memorial Fund for Education, via the Adzima Funeral Home (www.adzimafuneralhome.com)

--The James R. Mattioli Memorial Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, CT 06470

--The Dylan Hockley Memorial Fund, 34 Charter Ridge Road, Sandy Hook, CT, 06482

--Chase Kowalski Scholarship Fund, c/o People's Bank, 470 Monroe Tpke., Monroe, CT 06468.

There are more to come.

-- Volunteer opportunities

Grief counselors and others who want to volunteer their time in Newtown should call the state's emergency response number, (800) 203-1234 (just dial 211 from within Connecticut), and press "4".

But not many volunteers are needed, says Isabelle Almeida of the United Way of Western Connecticut. "I would discourage people from coming into the community unless they already know how they are needed," she said. "It is already chaotic."

(With additional reporting by Linda Stern; Editing by Beth Pinsker Gladstone and Dan Grebler)

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