State AG: Charities raise $400 million for Sandy relief

Volunteers with the American Red Cross load containers

Volunteers with the American Red Cross load containers of hot food onto disaster relief trucks in Deer Park to be distributed in communities affected by superstorm Sandy. (Nov. 6, 2012) (Credit: Daniel Brennan)

ALBANY -- Eighty-eight charities have raised about $400 million for superstorm Sandy relief, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday, though reports indicate the biggest recipients have spent less than half their donations so far.

Five nonprofits have raised the bulk of the funds, $330 million, and spent about $152 million, according to the attorney general's office.

The American Red Cross raised the most ($188 million), followed by the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty group ($67 million), the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City ($45 million), the Empire State Relief Fund ($15 million) and the Salvation Army ($14 million).


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The Red Cross said it has used the donations to serve 8.7 million meals, provide 81,000 shelter stays, transfer $205,000 to Feeding America to run a food-distribution program, and gave $192,000 to New York City residents for food costs and another $81,000 to metropolitan area residents for health care and funeral costs.

The Red Cross said it has spent $110 million cumulatively on Sandy recovery.

The Empire State Relief Fund, organized by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, so far has agreed to distribute $5 million of the $15 million it has in donations and pledges. It will direct the money to a housing trust fund affiliated with the state Homes and Community Renewal agency.

The Robin Hood Foundation said it had allocated $17.6 million -- all the money it raised before the "12-12-12" charity concert. Primarily, it has made grants to support organizations "across a spectrum of needs, including housing, food, physical and mental health, benefits access, legal counseling . . . and cash assistance."

The Mayor's Fund has spent $18 million so far on food, blankets, hygiene supplies and debris removal. It has also launched a small-business loan program.

The Salvation Army has spent $2 million it has collected, mostly on food, clothing, blankets and heaters. It said it will continue to provide support services forthe rebuilding effort.

Schneiderman oversees charities that operate in New York. Last month, his office fired off letters to dozens of nonprofit groups asking them to outline how much they have raised, what portion of money raised will go to expenses, what services will be provided and how will they use any surplus funds.

He said he wants to ensure "organizations operate in the most transparent way possible."

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