Entries in Donations (18)


Donations Pour into Newtown, Connecticut

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- As the final victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were laid to rest on Saturday, the United Way of Western Connecticut reported receiving close to $3 million in donations since the tragedy devastated the Newtown community on Dec. 14.

CEO Kim Morgan said that the charity was "overwhelmed by the generosity of caring people from across the nation and around the world who are supporting the Newtown community."

Morgan also made it clear "a structure that will manage and administer" the funds will be created to ensure that 100 percent of the $2.8 million in donations would go directly to the community affected by the loss of 20 children and six adults.

Since Sandy Hook Elementary may never reopen due to the shootings committed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza, it's possible the funds could go toward a new facility, although a separate foundation may be set up for that task.

Meanwhile, the parents, relatives and friends paid their final goodbyes Saturday to Josephine Gay, 7, and Ana Marquez-Greene, 6, who were buried in Connecticut, while a service was held for 6-year-old Emilie Parker in Utah.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Children of Couple Killed by Sandy to Benefit from $50K in Donations

Courtesy Wish Upon a Hero(NEW YORK) -- Zoe Everett said she was sitting in her Rutgers dorm room studying for a test on the night superstorm Sandy blew into the East Coast and changed her life.

"Before Hurricane Sandy I was a typical 19-year-old student at Rutgers," Zeo Everett wrote in a post on Wish Upon a Hero's website.  "But then came October 29th.  I was studying for an exam, waiting out Hurricane Sandy and then I received a phone call.  At 11pm on October 29th, I found out both of my parents had been killed."

Everett, 19, the oldest sibling of the Everett family of Randolph, N.J., wrote that her parents, Rich and Beth Everett, were killed by a falling tree on the night Sandy hit the East Coast.

According to news reports, the Everetts were driving home in their pickup truck with their two youngest children from the horse farm the family ran, after checking on the horses as the storm approached.  A gust from Sandy blew a 100-foot-tall tree onto the cab of the truck, killing both of her parents.  Her brothers made it out with minor injuries.

"I finally made it to the hospital in the morning after battling with Hurricane Sandy all night. I  was no longer your typical 19-year-old.  A moment in time, a second of bad luck, changed my life and my sibling's lives forever," she wrote on Wish Upon a Hero.  Everett's siblings are ages 17, 14, and 11.

Employees at the website heard about the Everett family's tragedy from a friend of Everett's.  The website, based in Vorhees, N.J., is a "social helping network," according to founder Dave Girgenti, where people can post their wishes and a description of why they are deserving of donations, and others can donate.

The network sprang into action.

"She's overwhelmed, not only just with losing your parents, but you don't even know where to begin.  She's 19 years old, trying to go to college, and now has the burden of being both mom and dad with three siblings to take care of," Girgenti said.

The staffers, who had never met or spoken with Everett, posted a description of her and her siblings' plight, asking for $5,000 to help the New Jersey siblings buy food and pay bills while they settle their parents' affairs.

Within 24 hours the site had raised more than $50,000.

"We didn't realize we were going to raise this much money," Girgenti said.

Everett and her siblings declined to be interviewed for this article, but she said in a statement that the family was grateful for the generosity.

"On behalf of my siblings and myself, I would like to express our sincerest thanks for the overwhelming support and generosity shown to us.  Wish Upon a Hero has raised funds for my family that have exceeded our wildest dreams," she said.  "The donations have ensured our well-being for the next few months and will hold us over until we are able to access our own funds."

Everett said the children would strive to be as "benevolent and giving" as their parents, and so they would not accept any further donations.

"My family's needs have been met.  We would like to draw attention and further donations to other individuals whose needs have not yet been met," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Volunteers Use Wedding Registries to Help Sandy Victims

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When Ashley Diamond envisioned herself helping out a fellow runner last Sunday she thought it would be along the course of the New York Marathon, the race for which she and nearly 40,000 other runners had spent months training.

Instead Diamond, an influential blogger in the tight-knit New York running world, found herself in front of a computer, still helping a fellow would-be marathoner but in a very different way.

Diamond, 28, logged on to to help Jen Correa of Staten Island, New York, who was also planning to run the marathon but instead found herself homeless and left with nothing after superstorm Sandy decimated her neighborhood last week.

The "wedding registry" Diamond created for Correa had nothing to do with weddings, however, and everything to do with what more and more people are doing in the aftermath of Sandy: trying to help those devastated by the storm.

"I was expecting Target to have a housewarming or new home registry and when I only saw 'wedding' or 'baby,' I thought I would just go into the wedding because I knew the items they'd suggest would be similar items," Diamond said.

Diamond renamed the registry "Jen and Pedro's Rebuilding Registry," after Jen and her husband, Pedro, an Iraq war veteran who stayed behind and narrowly survived the storm while Jen evacuated with the couple's two young children, ages 2 and 7.

"Registries are everywhere and have everything on there and allow people to choose things of all prices," Diamond said. "I listed their wedding date as Christmas Day and went to the top sellers, within a reasonable price point, and figured if it was a top seller and the ratings were good I would add it to the registry."

The idea to create a gift registry for the Correas came to Diamond, appropriately enough, while she was out on a run with her husband, Bo, who was also planning to run the marathon last Sunday. They saw it as a more tangible alternative to the fundraising site the family's friends had already created.

"This is finally a way that when someone buys it online they'll [the Correas] start getting things in the mail the next day," she said. "And, for the Correas, can you imagine a child who has nothing being able to open a box and have a princess or, for her son, to have a Mario wall decal, because that's something from his room that doesn't exist now?"

A wedding registry's direct impact also appealed to a trio of volunteers with Occupy Sandy, an Occupy Wall Street-offshoot created to help Sandy's victims. The three 25-year-old Brooklyn residents built their own "wedding registry" for Sandy's victims after spending a day volunteering in the field.

"We realized that they [Occupy Sandy organizers] knew exactly what they needed and just weren't getting it quickly enough so we thought a wedding registry would give them exactly what they needed," said Katherine Dolan, one of the organizers.

Instead of wedding items like china and monogrammed towels, the Occupy Sandy registry lists items like cleaning supplies, blankets, flashlights and shovels. Forgoing the wedding fluff, the registry lists the couple's style as "warm and non-perishable" and says that the couple has requested that the gifts not be gift-wrapped. Buyers can ship the items directly to a local church in Brooklyn now serving as a hub for Occupy Sandy volunteers.

"The first delivery came this morning and there was over $3,000 worth of products," Dolan said. "It's going to be weeks of recovery so we're going to keep up with it."

Diamond says the outpouring she has received from her single blog post Monday announcing the registry is also unlike anything she has ever seen before. From the time that Diamond told Correa of her efforts, to the moment when Correa got to her sister's home and was able to view the registry, everything listed had been purchased.

"Monday was the highest traffic day I've ever had on my blog," Diamond said. "I think when they [donors] can really put their donation and their money with a face and a family it just gives them that extra incentive. They love that they know exactly where their donations are going."

The Minneapolis-based Target, which announced last week it had donated $500,000 in money and products to assist with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts on its own, did not reply to a request for comment placed by ABC News as of this writing. also did not reply to a request.

The Correas, who at first had the registry gift items sent to Jen's sister's home, now also have a place to house the generosity of others, in their new, temporary rental home.

"I got a text last night at 9:30 from Jen saying, 'I'm so excited to have four walls. There may be no gas and no heat but there are four walls. And it's really easy to move when all you have is two air mattresses,'" Diamond said.

For more information on the "Jen and Pedro Rebuilding Registry," click here. For more information on the "Occupy Sandy Wedding Registry," click here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ABC to Hold ‘Day of Giving’ to Help Hurricane Sandy Victims

ABC(NEW YORK) -- Disney and ABC will launch a “Day of Giving” Monday, Nov. 5 to raise money for hurricane relief efforts. Starting on Good Morning America and ending with Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC shows will encourage viewers to help those impacted by the storm by making a contribution to the American Red Cross.


Here’s how you can participate in ABC’s “Day of Giving:”

  •     TEXT: Text ABC to 90999 to give a $10 donation to the Red Cross.
  •     ONLINE:  Go to to make a donation of any amount.
  •     BY PHONE:  Call 1-800-HELP-NOW. This number will bypass all the other menu options and direct your call to Hurricane Sandy relief.

Hurricane Sandy has affected millions along the East Coast, causing massive devastation and destruction and in its wake. Recovery efforts are underway as emergency crews scramble to get supplies to the hardest-hit communities, but many estimate that the relief effort may be the most expensive in U.S. history.

The Walt Disney Company kicked off the effort Thursday, announcing a $2 million donation for Sandy relief and rebuilding efforts, including $1 million to the American Red Cross and $1 million to organizations working on rebuilding efforts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


George Zimmerman Prepared to Flee US with $130,000, Judge Says

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman was preparing to flee the U.S. with his wife and $130,000 donated by supporters while he was out of jail on bond awaiting his murder trial for the death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida judge wrote Thursday.

Zimmerman, whose bail was raised to $1 million, "was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution, but such plans were thwarted," Judge Kenneth Lester wrote in the bond order released Thursday.

Lester berated Zimmerman for misleading the court about how much money he and his wife had stashed in bank accounts. In June, prosecutors proved to the court that Zimmerman had tried to appear indigent to the judge, when in reality he had hundreds of thousands of dollars that supporters had donated to help his legal defense.

Lester said that Zimmerman "flaunted the system," by misleading the court about how much cash he and his wife had in bank accounts.

Zimmerman was out on $150,000 bond when the ruse was discovered by prosecutors. He had been charged in April with second-degree murder for killing the unarmed 17-year-old in February.

Zimmerman quickly created a website through which supporters could donate money to go toward his defense fund. Lester said it was easy to conclude that Zimmerman was going to use the money raised through the website to flee.

"It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people's money," Lester wrote.

"The defendant also neglected to disclose that he had a valid second passport in his safe deposit box. Notably, together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the defendant made a quick decision to flee," the judge wrote.

Prosecutors declined to comment on Lester's order, and Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, had no immediate comment.

Lester ordered Thursday that Zimmerman could only be released from jail now if he could come up with $1 million bond, which Zimmerman may be able to do by drawing on the more than $200,000 in donations and paying 10 percent to a bail bondsman.

Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara said Zimmerman's credibility will now be a major issue which he will have to address.

O'Mara also argued for the bond last week, telling the judge that the prosecution had a weak case against his client.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NY Bride Who Faked Cancer Alleges Accomplice But Won’t ‘Snitch’

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The New York woman who faked a cancer diagnosis and scored thousands of dollars in wedding donations now says she didn’t act alone.

In her first broadcast interview, Jessica Vega told ABC's 20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas that a friend forged letters from doctors about her supposed cancer treatments and that Vega signed them.

Vega would not reveal the friend’s identity, but said that person was no longer in her social circle.

“I’m not a snitch,” she said, but later added, “I don’t need that person in my life anymore.”

Vega, 25, was living in Montgomery, N.Y., when she told her then-boyfriend, Michael O’Connell, that she was battling a rare form of leukemia and had six months to live.  Word spread and soon Vega’s story was featured in a local newspaper.  Friends and those sympathetic to Vega’s story came forward with donations of more than $13,000 to pay for the couple’s wedding and honeymoon.

After the truth came to light, Vega was arrested, apologized and, last April, pled guilty to charges of scheming to defraud and possession of a forged instrument.  She was sentenced to time served -- fewer than two months -- and released from prison last month.  With the help of her father, Vega has repaid her wedding donors.

O’Connell, who fathered two children with Vega, said he had no idea of her scheme and only grew suspicious after they married.  The couple divorced months after the wedding but have since reconciled.

While headline after headline has accused Vega of faking her illness to afford her “dream wedding,” Vega said she concocted the story in a desperate attempt to save her relationship with O’Connell.  She said that before she told him of her “cancer,” O’Connell had moved out.  At that point, the couple had one child together.

“I felt like if I didn’t have some way to get his attention, momentarily, that’s it, I’m going to be a single mom,” she told 20/20.

The couple moved back in together and made plans to marry.  Day after day, Vega said she couldn’t bring herself to come clean.

“I could’ve woken up any day and told Michael the truth, but I was a coward,” she said.

Though she served time in prison and paid back her donors, Vega knows that will never be enough to gain forgiveness from those she’s wronged.

“I’m well aware that there’s no way that I’m ever going to be able to make it up to people, at the end of the day,” she said.  “All I can offer is my humble apologies.”

Watch the full story, including footage from O’Connell and Vega’s wedding, on 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


George Zimmerman's Donations Spike on His Return to Jail

Seminole County Sheriff's Office(MIAMI) -- Donations to the legal defense fund of George Zimmerman have surged since the accused killer of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has been ordered back to jail, his lawyer told ABC News on Monday.

Attorney Mark O'Mara said Zimmerman's online defense fund has been receiving about $1,000 a day in donations, but the pace picked up after a judge required Zimmerman to return to jail.

Zimmerman, 28, woke up Monday in a 9-foot by 7-foot isolation cell in the Seminole County jail after surrendering Sunday. He was in shackles and wearing a bullet-proof vest after being taken into custody Sunday.

A judge ordered Zimmerman back into custody Friday after prosecutors presented jailhouse tapes of Zimmerman talking to his wife Shelly and allegedly discussing how much money was in his online defense fund. His wife told the court that they had no money to post for bail.

O'Mara said that he will seek a new bond hearing and that the couple intends to apologize to the judge.

"It's not again like they were trying to hide the money or leave with the money. They just had it... and felt like they needed to secure themselves," the lawyer said.

Zimmerman has about $193,000 in his defense fund, O'Mara said, and that about $20,000 has been spent on living expenses, hotels and security. Zimmerman has been in hiding because of death threats.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Trayvon Martin Case: George Zimmerman Judge Looks at Donations, Bail Amount

ABC News(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin shooting case asked a Florida judge Friday to increase the bail amount for George Zimmerman after news that the 17-year-old's killer had raised more than $200,000 through a Paypal account on his website.

Circuit Court judge Kenneth Lester Jr. said he wanted to scrutinize the account to learn more about who opened the site, who managed it and exactly how much money it contained.

The site called was closed earlier this week after Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara took control over and deposited the money in trust accounts, he told the court Friday. Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charges for shooting 17-year-old Martin on Feb. 26.

In a CNN interview Thursday, O'Mara said he was surprised to learn about the money. "He asked me what to do with his PayPal accounts, and I asked him what he was talking about," O'Mara said. "He said those were the accounts that had the money from the website he had. And there was about ... $204,000 that had come in to date."

Judge Lester said he would not make any "snap" decisions Friday as he deliberates what to do regarding the previously undisclosed account.

O'Mara asked that the names of the donors requested by the judge be revealed only in the judge's chambers to shield the hitherto anonymous Zimmerman donors from "ridicule and danger."

Zimmerman, 28, was a neighborhood watch volunteer when he saw Martin walking through his gated community, followed him, and shot him. Zimmerman was released early Monday on $150,000 bail. His family put up 10 percent to secure his release. His current location is unknown.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LA-Area Little League Rejects Strip Club Donation

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Apparently having a patron in “The Best Gentleman’s Club near LAX” was a bit too much for a Los Angeles-based Little League, which decided to decline a $1,200 donation from the Jet Strip Club.

Initially Lennox Little League President Roberto Aguirre told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV he expected the league to keep the surprise donation after running into financial problems when the local school district doubled rental fees and forbade selling hot food during games.

“They went out of their way to give $1,200 to kids who really need it,” Aguirre said. “I can’t get upset about that.”

However, it looks like league officials had second thoughts, as Aguirre later told KTLA 5 News that it would be inappropriate to accept the money.

“We do not want the money from the strip club,” Aguirre told KTLA. “We do need the money, but we will go some other avenue.”

The league is now hoping other, more family-friendly businesses will offer donations. In the long term Aguirre says they hope to raise $65,000 to build a snack shack that would cover most of the league’s expenses.

The general manager of the Jet Strip Club, James Wallace, said he had only hoped to make a difference by donating. Wallace said he was inspired to help fund the season after seeing an article about the league’s financial problems.

“I just found it sad,” Wallace told ABC News of his decision. “I had every good intention.”

On the Little League’s online sponsorship page, there are a few conditions for sponsors though none would seemingly prohibit the Little League from accepting a donation from a strip club.

Maybe it was the thought of what could happen should the Jet Strip Club ever decide to advertise their involvement that gave league officials the biggest headache. The Little League website states that a sponsor "has the right to use the following term in advertisements, posters, brochures, newsletters, etc.: “Sponsor of a team in the (Local Little League).”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Church Distributes $30,000 in 'Reverse Offering'

Design Pics / SW Productions/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New Jersey church turned the traditional money collection part of the service on its head with a "reverse offering" this weekend. When the Liquid Church passed around its popcorn-bucket collection baskets, people were told to take an envelope with the words "God Trusts You" on them. Each envelope contained a $10, $20 or $50 bill.

In total, the church distributed $30,000 of its money Sunday to 2,100 people, but there is a message behind the money, lead pastor Tim Lucas said.

"This wasn't a handout," he said. "That's the tip of the iceberg. We challenge people; we want them to creatively invest this money."

The congregants in the church's three locations in Morristown, New Brunswick and Nutley were instructed to take the money, no strings attached, and use it as a "spiritual stimulus." The pastor said this meant different things for different people.

One woman, a single mother, was thrilled that the $50 she received could help her with gas money for the week, which had been a struggle. Another person decided they would use the money to buy groceries and cook a meal for neighbors whose home had been damaged by Hurricane Irene.

Yet another woman is a baker of custom cakes and said the $50 could cover the ingredients for a cake, which she would sell for $500 and donate the money back to the church as part of an initiative to feed the homeless in the community.

Lucas said his intentions were pure and that there was no political message or ulterior motives behind the action.

The pastor spoke about how each U.S. bill has the words "In God We Trust" on it and Lucas inversed the idea into "God Trusts Us." He said that when a person is fortunate enough to have money brought into their lives, God trusts that they will do the right thing with it to help others who are less fortunate.

The non-denominational Christian Liquid Church has three locations, but no permanent buildings. It holds services in hotels and schools. Lucas said the church invests in people, not buildings, and that the church took a financial risk with Sunday's distribution of money.

While the reverse offerings won't be a weekly event, Lucas hopes to do it again in the future, although the surprise will not be the same. "People were shocked," he said. "When they were reaching in, some looked like God was going to strike them down with lightning."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio