‘There's Some Greed Going on:' Sutherland Springs Families Wonder Where Donations Have Gone

Sutherland Springs, the tiny community that banded together after 26 people were shot dead last November, is now being pulled apart by disputes over the money intended to help it heal.Two donors who raised more than $1.3 million have cut ties with the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and victims want answers on how the donations are being spent, especially after plans for a massive new $3 million church were unveiled."This has gotten way out of hand — way out of hand," said Lisa McNulty, 54, who lost her daughter in the shooting and says she never received donations sent to the church meant for her family. "There's some greed going on, and it's wrong."Church leaders say they’re working hard to distribute funds to victims and their families after receiving thousands of checks from donors around the world. They are following the law, they insist, and aren’t using victims’ relief funds to pay for the new church.Funding feuds are common in tragedies like this when huge sums of money collide with fragile emotions, experts said. But if not handled quickly, and properly, they can perpetuate long-term trauma, especially in a community this small.“There are going to be some people who are not going to be satisfied no matter what,” Pat Dziuk, head of the church’s Restoration Committee, said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News. “God bless them. I know they’re hurting and I’m sorry, but we’re not going to make everyone happy.”‘Thousands of pieces of mail’It’s unclear how much cash has flowed into the small community in the six months since Devin P. Kelley targeted First Baptist for his deadly massacre. A News analysis of dozens of online funds as well as individual and corporate donors has confirmed at least $3,023,675 has been given since the shooting.More than $1.4 million was raised through the website GoFundMe.com for specific families. Another $405,000 was donated to various general victims funds, and more than $1 million in cash and in-kind donations was raised to rebuild the church.But this $3 million total does not include several other pots of money The News could not put a dollar figure on, including the church's totals, money raised by supermarket chain H-E-B and potentially dozens of other private or unpublicized relief funds.H-E-B donated $150,000 to help retrofit victims' homes, pay their bills and provide them with gift cards for gas and groceries. But it has chosen not to disclosed how much was raised through customer donations at checkout stands and online, company spokesman told The News.The church has also declined to release information on its fundraising totals because the restoration committee has not counted it all yet, Dziuk said this week.  Continue reading...

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