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West Webster tragedy victims to get donations

Updated: Tuesday, December 24 2013, 06:24 AM EST

Webster, N.Y. – President Obama is expected to sign a law this week allowing West Webster Fire Department to distribute funds to victims’ and their families of the West Webster Christmas Eve tragedy.

In the days, weeks and months, following the West Webster tragedy donations poured into the fire department, $900,000 in all.

“To have the money come in it blew us away,” said Ken Smith, President of the West Webster Fire Department. “We didn't expect the support. The Webster area, Rochester, maybe - Monroe County, but the checks have been coming in literally from around the world. It just boggles our minds.”

The fire department is a not for profit, a 501 (c) (3) organization, they cannot distribute money to individuals and keep their tax exempt status.

But legislation has been passed in the House and Senate to make an exception in this case.

“It's not the first time, but it's rare that it happens,” said NYS Senator Chuck Schumer.

“We've tried to honor requests and send the money wherever the donors wanted it to go,” said Smith.

In many ways they have. Money has started a fireman's memorial, gone to the explorer program, the fire department, families on Lake Road who lost their homes, and the scholarship fund at Monroe Community College.

And once the President signs the law they’ll be able to add the victims’ and their families to that list.

“It was a huge relief to be able to finally to get the money where it was intended to go it's a first step moving on and getting over this whole event,” said Smith. “It's just one less thing that we have to worry about and we're just looking forward to moving on and being done with this whole event.”

West Webster tragedy victims to get donations

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Washington Times