Donors have been opening their wallets for Capital Gazette funds

Staff writer

Donors have given more than $755,000 to a memorial scholarship and to assist survivors and the family members of the victims of the deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette’s newsroom in June.

While the donations continue to come in, albeit at a slower pace than in the immediate aftermath of tragedy, several big-ticket and high-profile donations that will push the grand total well into seven figures are still expected, according the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the nonprofit organization receiving the contributions.

The money is in two accounts. One, the Capital Gazette Families Fund, has received more than $622,000 in contributions, while the other, a new memorial scholarship at the University of Maryland, has received $133,000.

Amy Francis, the development director for the Community Foundation, said more than 6,000 people have donated to one of the two funds, she said.

“The initial flurry of gifts when the tragedy first happented, the magnitude, it has slowed down but we are still getting gifts,” Francis, the development director at the Community Foundation, said over the phone.

One of the recent donors was former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. He gave to the Families Fund through a fundraiser at an Irish pub in Annapolis.

The funds were created after a gunman shot and killed five Capital Gazette employees: editors Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters and sales associate Rebecca Smith.

The Families Fund includes money from a GoFundMe campaign launched by Madi Alexander, a data reporter at Bloomberg Government, a media company that focuses on government news and analysis, which raised $205,743 through GoFundMe before turning off donations and encouraging people to give directly to the Community Foundation.

“This campaign was born out of a Facebook group of journalists from around the world who within just a few hours of the shooting wanted to know how they could provide help and comfort to their colleagues,” she said in the post. “It was a collaborative effort in the truest sense of the phrase.”

Alexander could not be reached before publication, but in a post to the fundraising page she said that there were 3,750 donors from all 50 states as well as 21 countries. Contributions ranged from $5 to $10,000.

Francis said some from the Families Fund has been disbursed to offset funeral costs. She said she didn’t know exactly how much had been given to the families of the victims, but said that those who have submitted reports of their expenses have been reimbursed.

The fund can be used for short and long-term support for Capital Gazette employees and their immediate family members who were affected by the killings. Besides funeral expenses, the money can go to counseling, medical expenses and other types of care. Money can also go to incidental expenses like child care, transportation and housing caused by injuries and loss of income.

But she also noted that some big contributions from various fundraisers at restaurants and bars and a major matching-pledge have not yet arrived and are not included in the running total.

Annapolis city government spokeswoman Susan O’Brien said the city, which organized the Annapolis Rising concert on Saturday to raise money for the Capital Gazette, is still calculating how much was raised in ticket revenue, beer sales and sponsorships. It is also crunching the costs of police overtime, production equipment rentals, and other expenses related to the event. She said it will probably be another two weeks before the city has a final tally.

City Council members were concerned about the concert’s $32,000 price tag. O’Brien said 2,400 tickets had been sold at $25 each. The pop-punk band Good Charlotte headlined the concert, which showcased other musicians as well.

Aaron Yealdhall, the artist who designed the “Press On” logo, said that T-shirt, stickers and other merchandise bearing his image have raised about $35,000 after expenses. He said he’s meeting with the foundation in the next few days to give money after he calculates final shipping expenses.

On Sunday, Fadó Irish Pub in Annapolis held a benefit as well. The restaurant’s owner, Keith McGrory, said the organizers at his bar’s event are still calculating how much was raised through a cover charge, auctions, raffles and a donation of 20 percent of bar sales.

The event’s organizer, Denisa Protani, a Baltimore Sun reader rewards manager, said Scaramucci donated through the benefit at Fadó. She declined to say how much he gave, but noted it was a significant portion of the approximately $10,000 raised.

She said her friend, Brian Karem, a White House correspondent and the editor of The Sentinel newspapers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, is close to Scaramucci and coordinated the donation. The former White House official quickly donated, she said,

“Really, Brian Karem deserves all the credit for getting Anthony to write the check,” Protani said.

Additionally, the total will skyrocket with a pending contribution from the the Michael and Jacky Ferro Family Foundation, which will match up to $1 million of the amount raised. Michael Ferro is the former chairman of tronc, the Capital Gazette’s parent company. With the Ferro Foundation’’s contribution the total donation to the various charitable funds will top $1.37 million.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
46°