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Family of mass casualty victim urges Wisconsinites to only donate to trusted fundraisers

APTOPIX Christmas Parade SUV
Posted at 5:08 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 19:51:53-05

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Donations for victims of the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy are pouring in from across the country. There are all sorts of ways to donate, from GoFundMe pages to local and national nonprofits.

The family of a woman killed in a mass casualty event nearly a decade ago warns those who are in the giving spirit to be careful where you donate.

Anita Busch says she knows the heartbreak the family of those who lost loved ones in the Christmas parade are experiencing.

"The PTSD sets in right away and you literally cannot function and it is so close to the holidays,” she said.

Busch’s cousin Mikayla Medek, who had ties to South Milwaukee, was killed in the Aurora movie theatre mass shooting in 2012.

"It's going to be so hard for people to look across the table and see an empty chair,” she said.

Busch says her family’s grief was compounded after a Colorado-based non-profit claimed to raise money for the victims’ families, but refused to send them the money they were promised.

Since then, Busch launched an organization called ‘Victims First’ to make sure donations that are collected for mass casualty victims actually get to them.

"Ask questions,” she said. “Find out where your money is going."

GoFundMe says it charges a 2.9 percent processing fee for each donation, plus 30 cents to cover debit and credit card charges.

Locally, the Waukesha County Community Foundation is teaming up with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County to raise funds for all victims and their families.

"The nice thing about our fund is it does offer an equitable opportunity that other people can apply and that it is across the full range of those that have been impacted,” said Waukesha County Community Foundation President Shelli Marquardt.

According to Charitynavigator.com, the Waukesha County Community Foundation received a perfect 100 out of 100 rating for being a trusted charitable organization. Marquardt says her foundation has waived all administrative fees, leaving a 3 percent transaction fee to cover debit and credit charges.

"Everyone who has been making donations, probably 90 percent of those people have been checking the box that says they want to pay the fee for the credit card, so 100-percent,” she said.

Busch says donors should look for warning signs of scams in fundraising descriptions.

"To get around directly giving money to the victims, they can say 'support the victims' or 'contribute to help the victims' but it doesn't say 'directly to', so if you see a fundraiser, please ask those questions,” she said.

GoFundMe has verified 17 fundraisers for victims or groups affected by the Waukesha parade tragedy.

Click here to donate to families impacted by the Waukesha Christmas Parade through the Waukesha County Community Foundation

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