Where are the Sept. 11 donations going?

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NEW YORK – Seven weeks after the terrorist attacks on America, pledges to The September 11th Fund have topped $360 million, with $248 million received by United Way of New York City and the New York Community Trust. Franklin Thomas, chairman of the September 11th Fund, announced that more than $30 million in emergency assistance has been distributed, including:

* 11,000 individuals have received immediate cash assistance.

* 4,600 people have gone through crisis counseling.

* 2,000 adults and children, including 700 rescue workers, received disaster mental health services.

* 1,000 people have met with career advisers.

* 500 children have been counseled in bereavement groups.

Complex process. “This is a tragedy of proportions we have not seen as a nation,” said Thomas. “Many agencies raising money and providing services are coming together for the first time, setting up family assistance centers, hotlines and Web sites. It’s a complex process, and it’s working well.”

Immediate help. Safe Horizon, an emergency assistance agency with a crisis center located at Pier 94 in Manhattan, has cut 11,000 checks to victims’ relatives to cover immediate expenses such as mortgages, rent, utilities and groceries, as well as for other needs such as funeral costs.

More grants are being awarded and money is being distributed on a daily basis. United Way of New York City, The New York Community Trust and The September 11th Fund Board are reviewing hundreds of proposals from nonprofit agencies requesting grants.

Central database. A central database is being created to ensure that donations are distributed in a organized, equitable fashion to victims’ families. The database will be operated by a major accounting firm, with access strictly limited to protect persons’ privacy.

Fund administrators are taking extreme care that the money is going to those most in need and that there is no duplication of services. The first priority is addressing immediate needs, such as direct cash assistance to help families of victims and others affected by the tragedy, and the psychological well-being of the survivors, family members, rescue workers, and all of those who were traumatized by the horrific events.

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