Criticized by Victim's Daughter on Facebook, United Way Responds

A Facebook post from the daughter of a Dec. 14 Sandy Hook School shooting victim prompted the organization to clarify its donation-handling process.


When Cristina Lafferty-Hassinger -- daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who died in December's shooting -- took to Facebook Monday to chide the United Way, it prompted a response from the charitable organization.

"The United Way gallantly stepped up to help manage the influx of donations, but who are they really helping?" she wrote in the Facebook post. "[M]ore than two months later the victims' families are being asked for proof of hardship before even the smallest disimbursement is issued. Proof of hardship?"

Shortly after the Dec. 14 shooting that claimed the life of 20 students and six educators, The United Way of Western Connecticut teamed with Newtown Savings Bank to organize the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

After the Facebook post, CEO Kim Morgan issued a statement clarifying the difference between the Sandy Hook School Support Fund and a separate United Way fund formed with the Newtown Rotary Club and the State Office of Victim Services, which a spokesman said likely led to the confusion.

Morgan described the second fund as an "immediate needs" fund "intended for people directly affected by the shooting including families who lost loved ones, families who have children in the school, Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers and staff, and first responders who were called to the school the day of the shooting."

"A simple screening process has been established to provide funds to those facing financial hardship or mental health needs," said Morgan in the statement. "Those seeking for financial assistance should be prepared to show official documentation of missed work or a decrease in income, and provide copies of bills that need to be paid."

The Sandy Hook School Support Fund has raised nearly $10 million to date. On Feb. 22, the fund formed the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation to make decisions on how to distribute the money. The foundation includes several Newtown residents and other area business and community leaders.

Thomas Crafts February 28, 2013 at 02:21 AM
They also spend a large proportion of donated funds on their overhead, which is a double digit figure last time i looked.
Deborra Zukowski February 28, 2013 at 03:48 AM
From what I understand, all fees associated with overhead have been waived by the united way. That is, 100% of the money donated to the sandy hook support fund will be available as the town sees fit.
Fred LeMay February 28, 2013 at 04:15 AM
I have donated my time and funds with the explicit understanding that my efforts and funds would benefit the victims families. Not for some CEO to decide how much money there outfit is going to keep.
Michael Cragin February 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Provide people with Money (stimulous plan?)......that have financial hardships due to the shootings on dec 14..loss of work etc....Im sure mannnny newtowners lost parents...aunts uncles..brothers etc.between then and now....Same sorrow....same grief...huge loss.........They get some of the 13 million also?....This is a wealthy town....in a wealthy part of this country. When well off people get EXTRA money (13 million) that was donated to be spent.......it can/will get ludicrious
Bruce Kraemer February 28, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Another legal way the United Way and Newtown Savings has to steal money. They are figuring that it will be forgotten about. If a private individual tried the same tactic they would end up in jail.
Lois Imbriano Barber February 28, 2013 at 10:40 PM
United Way has agreed to not take a penny. However, who better to know that they are sitting on the money than a victim's family member and I agree with her. While United Way sat on their millions, the My Sandy Hook Family fund contacted all the families and helped with immediate needs. One dad needed a suit to wear to the funeral and The MSHFF bought it for him, They also paid for a new washing machine that broke during that most stressful time so they didn't, on top of everything else, have dirty clothes piling up. While it's true that it took time to form a committee to oversee the spending, they should have met some immediate needs. I am running Newtown's Beautiful Baby Photo Contest again this year, and this is why the money I raise is going to the My Sandy Hook Family fund and NOT the United Way Fund. Here's my fundraiser if you know any kids newborn - 4 years if you'd like to help out. It's only a $10 entry fee made payable to the Newtown PBA. (all money raised goes to 1st Responders and the 26 Families) http://newtown.patch.com/blog_posts/do-you-know-a-cute-kid
Da Face! March 01, 2013 at 01:02 PM
My understanding is that the name of the Police Department's Union is "Newtown Police Union", and that "Newtown PBA" is something else (within the Department) that DOES NOT benefit our Police Officers' welfare, and is NOT under the control of the Union. BE SURE WHO YOU DONATE TO! ASK ANY NEWTOWN POLICE OFFICER TO BE POSITIVE!!
Douglas Brennan March 01, 2013 at 01:38 PM
Do not let those that are not charitable but only seek the lime light as a result of this tragedy for power and influence ruin the spirit of Newtown. It is not how we react to the minority but how we conduct ourselves with the majority whose only goal is to help.
Lois Imbriano Barber March 01, 2013 at 03:49 PM
I went to the Newtown PD and asked about what charities they have. It was explained to me about the Newtown Police Union and the Newtown PBA. I decided to go with the PBA. The money is earmarked to be spent on the officers and staff at Newtown.
maryann murtha March 01, 2013 at 04:33 PM
The United Way and Newtown Savings Bank have waived all administration fees to the fund.
Dr. Beverley Marr March 02, 2013 at 04:26 PM
So well said Douglas.
lisa April 17, 2013 at 02:20 PM
I agree totally!


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