Archive for the tag 'donations'

Source: DVIDSHUB/Flickr

The American Red Cross is coming under fire for refusing to disclose how it spent more than $300 million in funds raised for Superstorm Sandy relief, claiming that the information is a “trade secret.”

Investigative news outlet ProPublica has been fighting to get the independent relief organization to reveal how it spent donated funds on Sandy between the storm and February 2014, but the organization refuses to give a breakdown.

But the organization did fork over information to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is investigating this and other charities – so ProPublica filed a public records request with his office to see what was handed over.

The site reports what happened next:

That’s where the law firm Gibson Dunn comes in.

An attorney from the firm’s New York office appealed to the attorney general to block disclosure of some of the Sandy information, citing the state Freedom of Information Law’s trade secret exemption.

The documents include “internal and proprietary methodology and procedures for fundraising, confidential information about its internal operations, and confidential financial information,” wrote Gabrielle Levin of Gibson Dunn in a letter to the attorney general’s office.

If those details were disclosed, “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage,” Levin wrote.

The letter doesn’t specify who the Red Cross’ “competitors” are.

The Red Cross is a public charity and occupies a unique place responding to disasters alongside the federal government.

Some of the organization’s redaction requests were trivial: lines that simple read “American Red Cross,” or sections of letter stating they were willing to meet with the attorney general.

Those requests were denied by Schneiderman’s office, but others included information that the attorney general agreed was “proprietary and constitutes trade secrets,” such as “business strategies, internal operational procedures and decisions, and the internal deliberations and decision-making processes that affect fundraising and the allocation of donations.”

ProPublica has not yet received the documents from the attorney general, but the outlet says it will report on them when they do.

UPDATE (6:00 p.m.): Councilmember Mark Treyger, chairman of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, asked us to tack this on to the article, following the introduction (with Councilmember Ulrich) of a bill to create a monitor to oversee Sandy relief funding to prevent fraud.

“Citizens who donate to disaster relief efforts, including in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, have a right to know that their money is being used to help victims recover and rebuild. With so much funding at stake, and residents still in need of so much assistance, I remain concerned about the potential for misuse of relief funds, including by government agencies, contractors and private organizations. That’s why I worked with my colleague Council Member Eric Ulrich to introduce legislation this week establishing an independent monitor to investigate instances of waste, fraud and abuse in order to maximize the amount of aid delivered to impacted neighborhoods across New York City. To be clear, I am not accusing the Red Cross of any improper activity, but rather am reiterating the need for openness and transparency as the recovery effort moves forward.”

Kushner and son.

Kushner and son.

Seth Kushner, a Sheepshead Bay native now living in Bay Ridge with his wife and 5-year-old son, was diagnosed last month with an aggressive Acute Myeloid Leukemia, sparking an urgent search for a bone marrow donor who may help save his life.

If Kushner’s name is familiar to readers, it’s because we’ve shared his work here before. An accomplished artist and photographer, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek and elsewhere, he’s also the fellow who penned an ode to Southern Brooklyn’s old comic shops back in 2012. And we’ve also featured a bit of his photography on Bensonhurst Bean.

Kushner’s parents still live in the neighborhood, and are working hard to get the word out about his need for donors. He remains in the hospital until a match is found. From his bed there, he speaks with his son on FaceTime and draws superheroes for him daily.

Help become a hero to Kushner and his family by registering to become a bone marrow donor with Delete Blood Cancer. It take less than five minutes to fill out a registration form and have you cheek swabbed with a Q-tip.

The donor drive is being held on Saturday, June 14, from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Temple Beth Emeth (83 Marlborough Road, corner of Church Avenue). It’s a 15-minute ride on the Q train from Sheepshead Bay to Church Avenue, and a two-minute walk from the subway, heading west.

You can also register as a donor online.

Here’s a fact sheet about becoming a marrow donor:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

tete

The folks over at Tete-a-Tete Cafe (2601 East 14th Street) are teaming up with the Shorefront Y, the Kings Bay Y, the JCC of Bensonhurst and several other organizations to help raise money for area children with special needs.

From now until June 8 – exactly one month from today – the cafe will be donating 50 cents from the sale of every medium-sized latte or cappuccino.

The funds will go towards the Brooklyn Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative (BASDI) Fourth Annual Walk for Autism, which takes place on June 8 at 11 a.m. along the Riegelmann Boardwalk. The walk helps raise money for free programs for kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, helping Southern Brooklyn families who struggle with the financial burden required to meet their kids’ special needs.

Aside from buying some java, you can register to participate in the walk itself ($10), or donate money through the Shorefront Y’s website.

A traditional Passover seder plate. Source: Wikipedia

A traditional Passover seder plate. Source: Wikipedia

For the fifth year in a row, the Be Proud Foundation will host its annual Passover Food Distribution Event, tomorrow, April 10, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Aqua Health Rehabilitation Center, 2753 Coney Island Avenue.

More than 600 people of limited means will join Be Proud and its friends at the annual event. Recipients will be able to take home kosher food packages for Passover, including matzah, the “bread of affliction” and symbol of salvation and deliverance.

This event is made possible because of the generosity of private donations.

“Passover is the best time for us to show that we care about our neighbors. By giving out food we are going to share our happiness with the people who count on us more than ever in this current economic climate,” said Raisa Chernina, executive director of the Be Proud Foundation.

UPDATE (March 26): Organizers have added two more days to the sale: Thursday, March 27, and Friday, March 28.

These are the final days of the Friends of Gerritsen Beach Library’s first spring book sale since Superstorm Sandy devastated the branch in 2012. The library, located at 2808 Gerritsen Avenue, reopened in October 2013.

The organization has been doing book drives and sales for several years to raise funds for the local institution, with profits being used to help pay for programming and improvements at the branch.

So stop by and purchase a book, on either March 24 or March 25. Then you can donate them next year.

Participants took the stage as the winners were announced. (Photo by Yuval Kagan)

Participants took the stage as the winners were announced. (Photo by Yuval Kagan)

Remember that awesome SING! competition we told you about last month? Brooklyn Sings!, an inter-SING event in which students from Midwood, Madison and Murrow high schools competed against each other for best student-created stage production, took place this past Saturday and students raised more than $20,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society.

According to organizers, the event made history as the largest one-night fundraiser for the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team, with that boatload of money raised through ticket sales, raffles and direct donations.

Edward R. Murrow High School’s team won the event, with a show that brought seniors and freshman together to defeat an evil villain in “MurrowWarts.” Madison entertained with a trip to Toyland, and Midwood took the audience 10 years forward for a terrifying reunion. Every bit of the production was student-created.

A huge hurrah for the students at these three schools. They all worked hard, and for a great cause.

gerritsen-library

Friends of Gerritsen Beach Library (2808 Gerritsen Avenue) is in the middle of its first book drive since Superstorm Sandy devastated the branch in 2012. The location reopened in October 2013.

The organization has been doing book drives – followed by sales – for several years to raise funds for the local institution. They ask neighbors to drop off new or lightly used books, which they then sell off to pay for programming and improvements at the branch.

You should drop off any books between now and Wednesday, March 19. But, if you’ve got nothing to spare, you can always stop by and purchase a book during the sale days, on March 24 or March 25. Then you can donate them next year.

A traditional mishloah manot care package for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Source: nweiss81/ Flickr

A traditional mishloah manot care package for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Source: nweiss81/ Flickr

The following is a press release from the UJA-Federation:

UJA-Federation of New York’s fourth annual “Pack It Up For Purim” food drive runs now through March 16, 2014, and aims to provide more than 3,000 food packages to hungry New Yorkers. Food will be collected at JASA Brighton/Manhattan Beach Senior Center, 60 West End Avenue in Brooklyn; JASA Senior Alliance Senior Center, 161 Corbin Place in Brooklyn; Kings Bay YM-YWHA, 3495 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn; and Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, 3300 Coney Island Ave in Brooklyn.

Drop-off times for JASA Senior Centers are Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Drop-off times for Kings Bay YM-YWHA and Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach are Mondays through Thursdays from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Fridays from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The initiative follows one Purim tradition of offering mishloach manot, or charitable food baskets, to friends, neighbors, and those in need. Fanning out over New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, over 40 UJA-Federation beneficiary agencies, synagogues, day schools, and other organizations are collecting food donations and many are organizing food-packing projects to help inspire community-building and charitable giving.

“Approximately 2.6 million New Yorkers – or nearly one in four – have difficulty affording food for themselves and their families and we need to come together to help feed our neighbors,” says Susan Kohn, executive director of the Volunteer Leadership Development Department at UJA-Federation of New York. “In the spirit of Purim, we are so grateful to our food collection sites and encourage all New Yorkers to come out and help members of our community who are just trying to feed their families.”

“Our goal for last year was to deliver over 2,000 food packages, and this year we raised that goal to 3,000 to further alleviate pressure on food distribution sites and increase the number of families we can serve,” said Kohn.

Each Pack It Up for Purim food package will contain nutritious, nonperishable items such as whole-grain cereal or oatmeal, canned vegetables, canned tuna, pasta, beans, granola bars, and peanut butter.

The festival of Purim, celebrated annually by Jews around the world, commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.

For more information on how to volunteer and to find a list of the food collection sites, please visit www.ujafedny.org/purim. For information about these “Pack It Up For Purim” food collection sites, please contact:

  • JASA Brighton/Manhattan Beach Senior Center, Anna Bella: (718) 646-1118 / abella@jasa.org
  • JASA Senior Alliance Senior Center, Sheila Galvez: (718) 646-4100 / sgalvez@jasa.org
  • Kings Bay YM-YWHA, Laura Mezhiborsky: (718) 648-7703 ext. 227 / lora@kingsbayy.org
  • Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, Ariella Angert: (718) 646-1444 ext. 332 / Ariella@shorefronty.org

Photo by Erica Sherman

Three major Southern Brooklyn high schools are banding together to hold the first-ever inter-SING! competition, called Brooklyn Sings!, to benefit the American Cancer Society.

As any Brooklyn public high school graduate knows, SING! competitions can dominate school culture, bringing in students at every level to plan and produce a musical-production based on a different theme each year. The grades compete against each other for bragging rights.

What many may not know is that SING!, now a phenomenon at high schools across the greater New York City area, is a distinctly Southern Brooklyn creation, first established at Midwood High School in 1947 by music teacher Bella Tillis. The 1989 film Sing is based on the Brooklyn traditions, and SING! alumni include Barbra Streisand, Paul Simon, Tim Robbins, Paul Reiser and Neil Diamond.

Midwood, Madison and Murrow are all well-known for their grandiose productions that can involve hundreds of students.

Brooklyn Sings!, the inter-school event, is being created to benefit the American Cancer Society. It was conceived by the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team and one of its organizers, Joe Gillette.

“Our Relay for Life team is so thankful to each of these amazing schools for taking on BROOKLYN SINGS!  We know this event will be great for all the talented students, the schools and the community as a whole as we all unite and give of ourselves for a worthy cause,” Gillete said in a press release. “We encourage anyone who wants to get involved with our Relay for Life organization to join us as we strive to make a difference in our schools and community.”

“SING began in Midwood in 1947.  Mrs. Belle Tillis (who passed away last year 15 days shy of her 100th birthday) is credited with bringing SING to Midwood,” said Midwood Principal Michael McDonnell. “For the last 60 + years, our student body has sung, danced and acted their way towards winning the annual SING competition.  In fact the organizers of all the schools’ SINGs were Midwood students who had participated in Midwood SING.  So it is with great honor and responsibility that along with the help of Relay for Life, we get to “throw down the gauntlet” to our neighboring schools.”

Anyone interested in supporting one of the school’s fundraising efforts for the ACS can make a tax deductible donation by visiting the team page of their favorite school.

For Midwood visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/midwoodsings;
For Madison visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/madisonsings
For Murrow visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/murrowsings

The event will be held March 8 at 6 p.m. at Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L). Tickets will be sold through each school, and go one sale February 24.

The New York Aquarium in Coney Island broke ground on Friday on a new shark exhibit officials hope will revitalize the institution.

The 57,000-square-foot facility called “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” will hold 115 species including more than 45 different kinds of sharks, and guests will be able to view the creatures from all sides with the installation of a 360-degree coral reef tunnel.

Last year we reported that the aquarium had been all but destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, with repairs costing taxpayers approximately $65 million The new sharks exhibit carries a $157.1 million and is due to open sometime in 2016.

“You will be surrounded on all sides by not only sharks, but by schools of bright colored bony fish and the sort of beauty of the tropics that we all associate with diving,” Jon Forrest Dohlin, aquarium director and vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, told the Daily News.

The new building will be three-stories high and there will be a laboratory above the exhibit for children to learn more about the many species inside. On top will be a roof-deck overlooking the ocean.

In December, we wrote about the flashy “shimmer wall” that will wrap around the facility, on which neighbors can make a small donation to have their name digitally projected on one of the 33,000 aluminum tiles.

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