BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As a way of helping survivors of last weekend’s tragedy get back on their feet, Tops is donating a half-million dollars to start a “Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund.”
It only took a few minutes, police say, for an out-of-town gunman to wreak havoc on a community that will take years to recover from, if ever.
Tops officials now want to turn the grief and anger from that tragedy into something positive.
“Within about 36 hours we had a really good bunch of processes in place to support them, some grief counseling, we were providing them food, providing them necessities,” Tops Markets President John Persons said.
Tops are partnering with local community groups, and a non-profit based in Virginia to form the “Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund,” and Tops officials are donating $500,000 for the cause.
“This is really a collective way that all of us can get behind the survivors and the victims of that horrible event, and that is really how it came about,” Persons added.
Tops President Joh Persons told us, they chose to link up with the National Compassion Fund to manage the 5/14 Survivors Fund because it’s composed of survivors and loved ones of other violent tragedies.
Of the $93-million NCF has disbursed over 8 years, they helped raise almost $12 million for the victims, survivors and families of the Walmart massacre in El Paso, Texas three years ago. And more than $32 million for the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017 that killed 60 concertgoers and wounded another 400.
The CEO of the National Compassion Fund issued a statement saying, “Our hearts go out to the entire Buffalo community. We are honored to join forces with Tops Friendly Markets, to help meet the overwhelming needs of the survivors of this atrocity… stand in solidarity with those hurt by gun violence.”
Persons said funds are being raised for families of those who died, both store associates and customers, and those dealing with the emotional impact.
“The physical support, the monetary support, product, food, donations that the people of Western New York have come together and rallied behind this community,” Persons said.
Persons said the 5/14 fund will be administered by a committee of local community leaders, and every dime of those proceeds will go to those in need.
To make a tax-deductible donation to the “Survivors Fund,” click here.
Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.