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Disbursements from Buffalo Survivors Fund still weeks, possibly months away

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — News 4 has received an update on where fundraising efforts stand to help those impacted by the Tops mass shooting.

On Friday, the executive director of the National Compassion Fund was in Buffalo, meeting with members of a committee in charge of overseeing the Buffalo Survivors Fund.

That fund is approaching $3 million and will go to help families of the victims and survivors. It’s expected fundraising will stop in September.

There’s also hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been pledged, such as from the bills.

The Survivors Fund has been set up by the National Compassion Fund and Tops. Donations can be made through a GoFundMe account or by making a donation directly to the National Compassion Fund.

A committee of 25 members, which is overseeing the process, met Friday. Mostly business and community leaders are on the committee, which includes the likes of Bills legend Thurman Thomas and his wife, Patti. It’s expected that money from the fund will be released in the fall and advances from the fund will be allowed.

“The final distribution will probably happen in October, but we do have a provision in the draft protocol for an advance for families that’s optional if they want it,” said Jeffrey Dion, the executive director of the National Compassion Fund.

But first, there will be an exhaustive process to determine how many survivors there are — from Tops workers, to people who just happened to be in the area that day. There will be an online application process to do this.

“Then, after that, the steering committee is going to have to say, ‘Based on all of the feedback that we’ve heard, do we want to finalize the protocol the way it is or do we want to make any changes?’” Dion said.

Dion said next week, we can expect all members of the steering committee to be announced.

There will also be a town hall and a public comment period later this summer.

There is another fund that’s raising money for community organizations. It’s called the Community Response Fund, which is being overseen by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the United Way.

The Community Response Fund has received financial commitments of about $3 million.

“The goal of the funders, as we have done up to this point is to — the work that we do — the money that’s going out, is really based on feedback we’re getting from the community,” said Trina Burruss, Chief Operating Officer, United Way.

The United Way said some of that money has already been distributed. Grants between $5,000 and $20,000 have gone to 70 Black-led organizations.

Money has gone to events and organizations like Juneteenth and African American Heritage Food Co-op.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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