United Way defends Newtown donations process

AP News
Posted: Feb 26, 2013 6:17 PM

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The United Way said Tuesday in response to concerns by the daughter of a Newtown, Conn., school shooting victim that a new nonprofit group overseeing donations is getting input from victims' families on how to distribute the money.

Cristina Lafferty Hassinger posted on her Facebook page that the families are being asked for proof of hardship before the smallest disbursements are issued. She wrote that her mother, principal Dawn Hochsprung, was shot dead trying to protect students and staff.

"We've been victimized enough," Hassinger's post says. "We shouldn't have to fight for what is rightfully ours, but we won't be taken advantage of in our darkest hour."

Facebook and telephone messages left Tuesday for Hassinger weren't immediately returned.

United Way of Western Connecticut said Tuesday that a one-page form is used for those seeking help with immediate needs. It says the families met last week with the board of the new foundation, which is overseeing distribution from a larger fund established by the United Way that now totals about $9.7 million.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation will determine how to allocate the money. United Way was involved in establishing the original fund and said the money is being turned over to the foundation so that the community can decide what it needs.

"We all want to get this right and will take the time necessary to hear from all those impacted," Kim Morgan, CEO of United Way of Western Connecticut, said in a statement.

A gunman killed 20 first-graders and six faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December before committing suicide.