EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 18, 2013

Marathon attacks spur generosity, some scams

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — When explosions rocked the finish line at the Boston Marathon Monday, people stepped up.

Police, athletes, firefighters, medical personnel and ordinary citizens put their own lives on the line to help those wounded by the bombs.

Since, many others have stepped up, too, with money.

Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced Tuesday the creation of The One Fund Boston to raise money for the victims and their families. John Hancock insurance company immediately donated $1 million. Others followed that lead. The Boston Bruins, team owner Jeremy Jacobs, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association contributed a combined $250,000.

The American Red Cross received such an overwhelming response from the public, it announced it had enough blood — for now.

The organization and Boston hospitals treating the wounded said they would need more donations in the days and weeks ahead.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family vowed to match $100,000 if that amount is donated through the Patriots’ website.

Nose tackle Vince Wilfork and new wide receiver Danny Amendola stepped up, too. Amendola is donating $100 for every pass he catches this season, $200 for every one he drops.

Dozens of restaurants banded together yesterday to donate 10 to 25 percent of the evening’s proceeds to The Greg Hill Foundation, founded three years ago to help families affected by tragedies.

The restaurants include the local Salvatore’s chain, China Blossom in North Andover and Tuscan Kitchen in Salem, N.H.

Tuscan Kitchen owner Joseph Faro said donating 25 percent of last night’s proceeds was the least he could do. He said several of his employees were near the finish line when the two bombs detonated.

“They are OK, but they were very saddened by it and shaken,” he said. “We thought it was the best we could do to help.”

David Yee, whose family owns China Blossom, said they were donating 15 percent of their proceeds. The restaurant is also donating proceeds from a comedy fundraiser Saturday, he said.

“What happened was devastating,” Yee said. “This is the best way to help out.”

Residents have rallied, too, sending donations, organizing fundraisers and honoring the victims at vigils. Hundreds gathered Tuesday night on Boston Common with candles in hand. More than 1,000 people attended a vigil at the University of New Hampshire Tuesday.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to attend a service in memory of the victims at 11 a.m. today at Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.

But the tragedy also brought out the worst in some people.

Within an hour of the attacks, dozens of website domain names related to the bombings had been registered, according to the Massachusetts attorney general’s office.

Many were legitimate, but some were not. The attorney general’s office issued a warning yesterday on how to avoid scams.

“Our office received reports just this morning that a mere four hours after the attack at the marathon, over 125 domain names were registered to collect money for the victims and several fraudulent Twitter accounts were opened, asking for money as well,” Massachusetts Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony said in a statement.

The attorney general’s office declined to comment further on the number of scams.

The prevalence of scams prompted others to issue warnings as well, including the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

Massachusetts State Police apologized on Twitter for promoting a fundraising account, @bostonmarathons, that proved to be fraudulent.

“We now know that @bostonmarathons is a scam,” state police said. “We should know better and apologize for perpetuating the exploitation of the bombing.”

For those who want to help, the attorney general’s office recommends following these tips.

Anyone contributing oonline should make sure it’s to a legitimate, registered charity. They can check by going to mass.gov/ago/charitiesreports or by calling (617) 727-2200, Ext. 2101. Anyone with inquiries or complaints about charitable solicitations should go to that website or call that number.

Websites such as Charitynavigator.org and BBB.org/charity are also useful in researching charities, according to the attorney general’s office, which also recommends that people ask a lot of questions when receiving donation requests from charities. Ask how much of the money goes to the charity and how much to a professional fundraiser, the office said.

Donors should also ask who employs the telephone solicitor and if the contribution is tax deductible. Payments should be made by check and written to the charity, not the fundraiser, and never give out credit card information over the telephone, the attorney general’s office said.

How to help :The One Fund Boston: Visit onefundboston.org or send a check to: One Fund Boston Inc., 800 Boylston St., #990009, Boston, MA, 02199 American Red Cross: Visit redcross.org to donate money or schedule an appointment to give blood. Call 1-800-RED CROSS. Salvation Army: To donate, visit salvationarmyusa.org. :Mass. General Hospital: Blood donations will be accepted later this month. To donate money for the victims' families, visit give.massgeneral.org. :Boston Children's Hospital: To donate money for the victims' families, visit giving.childrenshospital.org. :Brigham and Women's Hospital: To donate money for the victims' families, visit giving.brighamandwomens.org. Boston First Responders Fund: The fund was established by the Boston police and fire unions. Proceeds go to the victims and their families. Go to bostonfirecu.com or send checks to: Boston First Responders Fund, 60 Hallett St., Dorchester, MA, 02124. :New England Patriots fund: Donations can be made online at patriots.com/donate. :New England Revolution fund: Donations can be made online at revolutionsoccer.net.donate.