NEWTOWN, Conn., March 25 (UPI) -- Some $15 million donated after the Newtown, Conn., school shootings should go directly to the victims, say relatives of those killed in mass tragedies.
In a weekend statement, 50 parents and family members directly affected by incidents such as Columbine and the World Trade Center said that in the past charities had failed to distribute aid to those most in need, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Virtually all the money donated since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School three months ago remains unspent. Most of the money, $10.2 million, was donated to the United Way of Western Connecticut, which transferred the funds to a local foundation that will decide who will receive the money and when.
Some family members expressed concern the donated money would benefit existing charities and causes not related to the shooting more than the victims.
Donors had the option of giving to funds set up specifically for family members affected by Newtown, said Kim Morgan, chief executive officer of the United Way of Western Connecticut. The main fund is unrestricted, however, to deal with far-reaching and unseen effects of such tragedies, she said.
More than 40 local funds were set after the shootings, Morgan said. She suggested some of them could be included in the local foundation that would be controlled by local residents would could decide how to distribute the money.
Scott Larimer, whose son was killed in the Aurora shootings, said he feared the current structure in Newtown would force the families of victims to plead for aid "hat in hand."
He said a nationwide protocol should be created to establish guidelines for everything from who receives aid to whether contributions are tax exempt.