When two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino founded the One Fund for people all over the country to donate money to victims and the families of those affected by the marathon.
Within the first two months, the One Fund collected $61 million in donations, all from private donors. The money was distributed to 232 families. One year later, those donations are continuing to come in strong, said Kenneth Feinberg, former administrator of One Fund.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “I was amazed at the charitable impulse of the American people. It is a symbol of ‘Boston Strong’… the president came to Boston after the bombings and said ‘there’s a little bit of Boston in all of us,’ [and] One Fund certainly demonstrates the truth of that statement.”
Since the first distribution of donations, approximately $17 million was collected, Feinberg said. A spike in donations occurred recently due to the anniversary of the bombings.
“Without One Fund, it would have been a lot more complicated for people from all around to help these victims they didn’t know,” said Tim Gleason, 47, of Dorchester. “It really streamlined the process, and it’s crazy how much people wanted to help after the bombings.”
Throughout the past year, One Fund has reached out to the victims of the marathon bombings to assess their needs. Responses have confirmed the need for another monetary distribution. One Fund announced in January that a second distribution of funds will take place in July.
“The severity of the injuries suffered by so many last April is almost too much to comprehend, and we understand money alone cannot replace all that was lost,” said James Gallagher, president of One Fund, in a January release. “But the outpouring of love and overwhelming generosity and support from thousands of individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations from all over the world helps offer hope for a brighter future.”
One Fund has served as a model for several victim compensation organizations since its launch, but the donations seen with the One Fund are unprecedented by any other organization of a similar cause, Feinberg said. The funds following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Virginia Tech University each raised only $7 to 8 million.
“Every once in a while, rare but occasionally, there is a tragedy that results in citizens voluntarily contributing funds, and since One Fund, there was a similar fund for the Fort Hood shootings [in 2009], and for the Washington Navy Yard [in 2013],” he said. “And it’s all private donation. [It’s] amazing, just amazing. Once the money is distributed to the victims, they can use it to their discretion without any strings, taxes or legal requirements.”
The leaders of the One Fund plan to continue assisting victims and their families through monetary donation for as long as help is needed, said Dot Joyce, spokesperson for the One Fund.
“The One Fund will exist as long as it is effective,” she said. “This unprecedented showcase of generosity was a tremendous support, not only financially but also for the collective spirit of our city. This money is a gift. The people who receive it can use it for whatever they deem necessary. The One Fund [will continue] its mission of helping those most affected by the events of last year.”
Puisang Leung, 32, of the South End, said the One Fund has helped to unify the city in the wake of tragedy, and she hopes the fund continues to serve a purpose for victims.
“The bombings affected everyone in Boston because we never thought something like that would happen right here in our town,” he said. “It [the fund] doesn’t just help the victims recover, although it is great for so many people to care so much, but it also makes the city have much more of a sense of togetherness. That is something that will hopefully last forever.”
Bain Capital was one of the largest donors to the One Fund in the primary collection in April 2013. Ernesto Anguilla, spokesperson for Bain Capital, said the company was eager to step forward after the bombings, and their employees are a driving force in ensuring that donations continue to pour in.
“As a major employer and contributor to civic life in Greater Boston, our employees very much wanted to support those most affected by the bombings in their recovery,” he said. “The partnership didn’t end there. In fact, today our employees are donating money from their own pockets to provide additional support to the One Fund in the run up to the marathon.”
Several residents said they are supportive of One Fund and its continuing presence because it gives everyone an easy and efficient way to directly help the victims of the bombings.
Lisa Greiner, 56, of Back Bay, said she hopes donations continue to stream in because the effects of the bombings on the victims will not end any time soon.
“The people that really got hurt by the bombings, be it injured or losing a family member, will be facing hardships for years to come,” she said. “The kinds of injuries the bombings caused will cost a lot in medical fees, so any help we can give them to cover that is great … they shouldn’t have to deal with that on their own.”
Kathleen Young, 51, of Beacon Hill, said she is amazed by the amount of donations One Fund received but also thinks other tragedies should not be ignored.
“It’s incredible how many people cared and donated to these people,” she said. “But I can’t help but feel sad that other tragedies aren’t getting the same treatment when, in many cases, even more people are being hurt. I just hope this sets a standard that will be met when other tragedies happen in the future.”