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Bon Jovi Gives to Sandy Relief

Bon Jovi
IMG: s_bukley / Shutterstock

Jon Bon Jovi announced this week a $1 million gift to Hurricane Sandy Hurricane Relief Fund, a charity headed by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie. The storm, which hit in October 2012, was the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history, totaling over 68 billion dollars in damages. In New Jersey, the storm killed 37 people, left 2.6 million people without power and damaged 72,000 homes and businesses. Bon Jovi visited his hometown, Sayreville, shortly after the storm and headlined a relief concert last year. He is also on the board of directors for the relief fund. Rocker Bruce Springsteen is one of the advisory founders of the organization as well.

The purpose of the relief fund is to raise money for organizations in New Jersey that work to rebuild and repair the damages left in New Jersey after the storm. It was created in order to supplement the government support and cover damages that would not otherwise receive aid. The fund is estimated to have 38 million dollars in assets and has awarded over 10 million in grants since April of this year. The largest gift was awarded to the Princeton Area Community Foundation for housing assistance. Other large gifts have been awarded for housing assistance, but also to Operation Hope for financial counseling, social services, mental health assistance and economic development.

Bon Jovi is no stranger to philanthropy, but he says it is especially hard to see your home devastated by disaster. Governor Christie said that he was proud that Bon Jovi never forgot his hometown roots.

To read more about Bon Jovi, head to our profile.

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Organizations Profiles

United Water and KKR Give Little League a Chance

Little league
IMG: via United Water

Who can forget the devastating images of Hurricane Sandy?  Homes and businesses were torn apart and the emotional toll was even higher than monetary value.   It can be difficult to rebuild and get a fresh start with damages in the millions.

However, United Water and its financial partner Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) recently donated $50,000 to Bayonne Little League to help restore facilities that were damaged during the storm. The money was presented at Little League Family Day which was sponsored by both companies at the Little League complex.

Part of the reason they chose to donate to this particular cause was that it was for the kids.  They wanted to give the children hope for their team.  The playing fields, office, concession stand and bathrooms were all inundated and damaged by tidal waters during the storm.

United Water often provides assistance to community organizations that are in need.  According to Chris Riat, senior director of NJ contract operations for United Water, “We chose the Bayonne Little League because of the outstanding impact it has had on the city’s youth over the years and the countless hours spent by the volunteers who run the organization. We are proud to be of assistance.”

“With United Water and KKR’s assistance, we are able to restore the Little League facilities and continue to provide an enriching experience for the children in Bayonne,” said Joe Spengler, commissioner of the Bayonne Little League. “We are grateful for their contribution and support.”

KKR is a global investment firm that works with companies and investment partners around the world “to deliver flexible capital solutions.” Henry Kravis is the co-founder and co-CEO of KKR.  According to the website, KKR is “a global investor with a long-term horizon.  KKR makes…decisions that can have an enormous impact: millions of individuals depend upon [us for]…quality of life.”

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Organizations Resources

Sandy Relief Foundation Facing Scrutiny

Nearly four months after Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast, one major charity is having its operations and motives questioned. The Sandy Relief Foundation raised about $1 million in the wake of the storm, but according to an investigation by the Asbury Park Press, few of those funds have been released. It’s also not a tax-exempt organization, as its website claims.

The Sandy Relief Foundation is run by John Sandberg and his girlfriend, Christina Terraccino. Sandberg says he began planning for the foundation just before Sandy hit New Jersey and records indicate that the two filed paperwork to incorporate the foundation as a nonprofit corporation in New Jersey on October 30, 2012.

Though it’s not officially tax exempt, the two founders claim that tax exemptions can be filed retroactively once they gain official nonprofit status. The couple is getting help on their IRS application from Melanie Swift, who is a nonprofit expert. She said she had told the two to take down the “tax-exempt” status claim previously.

According to Sandberg, the delay in funds distribution is due to a large backlog of applicants. He says those on the waiting list should receive gift cards within 30 days if they qualify for aid.

There are some who have already received aid from the Foundation, such as Michael Armstrong, who says he was given two gift cards to Lowe’s totaling $500.
They were gracious enough to stop in the Highlands and they checked everything out and they gave us gift cards,” he said.

But because the foundation isn’t officially registered in New Jersey—or any other state—it technically isn’t supposed to be allowed to fund raise there. Many are beginning to question the operations of the organization as a whole. A few other details uncovered by the Asbury Park Press make Sandberg seem less than trustworthy. He never received a degree from Steton Hall University (as the resume claims he did) and two of the foundations corporate sponsors say they’re not affiliated with the charity at all.

The Sandy Relief Foundation’s website claims that it was founded “by the victoms for the victims” of the storm. “We decided to take it upon ourselves to bring attention to our neighbors in need of immediate relief. With no funding, and limited resources we started our journey to raise donation to bring necessary supplies to local shelters, restore power, clean up debris, and rebuild communities,” it reads. “With an anticipated 6-8 year recovery and 2 year clean up this will not be a sprint, it will be a marathon.”

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Organizations Resources

Tommy Hilfiger works to win hearts after Sandy

tommy hilfiger
IMG: Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com

Recovery from Hurricane Sandy will take quite a long time, but with the help of organizations like Tommy Hilfiger beleaguered areas might stand a better chance.  Within a day of hearing about the disaster in New York the organization’s CEO Gary Sheinbaum mobilized his team to bring clothing and donations to communities that needed it.  Read more about the company’s generosity here.

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News

Buddhist Organization Donates $10m

Tzu Chi Logo
IMG: Twitter/@tzuchicanada

Natural disasters are things that tend to bring out the very best and worst in people. For the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, alongside some other religious groups, it was a chance to let their colors shine and bestow some major goodwill on NYC.

Tzu Chi has managed to raise $10 million, and they plan to give it all to victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York City. Individual donations from around the world are what make it possible for Tzu Chi to hand out $600 to qualifying families in the form of a Visa debit card.

Volunteers from Tzu Chi have been combing the hardest hit areas of the city, seeking out eligible families that are in need. They also have a hotline available (877-889-8277), which storm victims can call to find out if they qualify.

The foundation has already handed out cash cards to close to 2,000 families in six districts around NYC. 400 volunteers were sent to Lindenhurst, Hamilton, Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, South Toms River, and Atlantic City to distribute the cards on November 11th. Victims of the storm were “extremely moved by this generosity,” according to an article on the Tzu Chi website.

Volunteers also distributed blankets and bags of necessities to the families, some of whom were “moved to tears, saying that it was like an infusion of blood that would save their life.” Many of the now victims have said they will become donors to the cause once they are back on their feet, so they can keep the goodwill going and help others as they have been helped.

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in the U.S. was founded in 1984. Since then, they have expanded and grown to have over 80 offices across the country. There are more than 100,000 volunteers actively working within the organization to provide support and make a difference to their communities. They were the first organization to provide cash relief to families affected by 9/11, gave over 4.2 million in donations to victims of Katrina, and helped nearly 50,000 families after Haiti’s major earthquake in 2010.