Thanksgiving won’t be the same for many families in the Waukesha area this year.
What is usually a happy day is likely to be a difficult one for many afterwards. Tragedy rocked downtown Waukesha on Sunday afternoon.
Some families go on vacation without loved ones, others spend it in a hospital.
But after the terrible incident, several local organizations and individuals quickly took action to raise funds for the victims after a red Ford Escape drove through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, leaving at least six dead and dozen injured.
Moments after hearing about the tragedy on Sunday, said Amy Lindner, the president and CEO of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha Countycalled her family members.
“This is the parade I grew up with,” said Lindner.
After making sure her family was safe, she called again.
“When I was so relieved to hear that my personal family was fine, my next call was what we need to do for the community,” said Lindner.
Lindner called Shelli Marquardt, President of the Waukesha County Community Foundation.
They built it up quickly United for the Waukesha Community Fund.
Three days later, the fund has already received more than 6,300 donations from 12 different countries.
That number is still increasing.
“I am impressed by the generosity, the care and the broad response,” says Marquardt. “It’s overwhelming.”
Both she and Lindner spent Sunday night trying to figure out the “big moves” of the fundraiser, Lindner said.
“Waukesha is a big, small town, and we’re about a degree away from anyone who saw or knew someone who was at the parade,” said Marquardt, who lives in Waukesha County.
Lindner said she was encouraged by any donation received, even as little as $ 5 or $ 10. As of Wednesday morning, the fundraiser had raised more than $ 1.3 million.
“I’m not surprised (by the amount) and that’s actually a good thing,” said Lindner. “My experience in this church is such that I would have expected it. I expect it because I know the people who live here and because I know how much they care for one another. “
A committee will meet early next week to plan the exact distribution of the funds received.
Lindner said the first wave of donations will start in the next few days. This money goes directly to the families of those who have already lost a loved one.
“We want to get our hands on cash quickly to help them with whatever they need in terms of immediate spending,” said Lindner.
Lindner expects that part of the funds will also be used for access to resources for mental health.
“That won’t go away in a week,” said Lindner. “This is really going to be something that a lot of people struggle with for a long time.”
How to donate
To donate, visit the United for Waukesha Community Fund website at bit.ly/UnitedforWaukesha.
You can also donate in cash or by check at any time Landmark of the credit union.
You can send cash or checks to United Way Pledge Processing, PO Box 88988 Milwaukee, WI 53288.
The organizers ask that each check include a memo from the United for Waukesha Community Fund.
Waukesha South Band fundraiser
Kali Granzow, the band director of Waukesha West High School, started out as GoFundMe supports the marching band at Waukesha South High School, after members of this band were among the injured on Sunday.
The fundraiser aims to raise money for medical expenses, new instruments and uniforms for the band’s students, Granzow said.
Granzow had originally hoped to raise around $ 50,000. This goal was achieved within two hours.
Over 3,800 people have donated to the fundraiser so far. As of Wednesday morning, total donations closed at $ 200,000.
“I’m completely shocked,” said Granzow.
“Music has always been a big family. It’s a small world and we support each other through thick and thin, ”said Granzow. “We saw friends and neighbors across the country sharing our side, all of whom were supportive of the cause. It fills our hearts. ”
If you are looking for more ways to help those affected by the terrible tragedy of the Waukesha Chirstmas Parade, you can go here.
Evan Casey can be reached at 414-403-4391 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ecaseymedia.