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One company’s devastating loss of life in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks inspired an annual charitable effort benefiting those in need around the world, and now that effort will help victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial services firm that lost 658 employees in the 2001 attacks, announced Thursday at PS 256 in Far Rockaway that it will donate a total of $10 million to families affected by the hurricane in 19 schools across Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island and New Jersey.
“We are adopting 19 different schools in New York and New Jersey because our employees live there. The affected areas are part of our community and part of who we are,” said Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick at the school, at 160 Beach 29th St. “We were hit hard on 9/11 and now every year on that date, we are inspired to help those in need.”
Through the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, a total of 10,000 families in the affected region will each receive a $1,000 debit card to spend however they see fit. Lutnick, who lost his brother on 9/11, said that giving money directly to the parents is a sure way to make sure the cash truly makes a difference.
“You put the money in the hands of parents because the parents are going to do what is best,” he said. “If they need a new couch for their home, that’s fine. But maybe they just take their kids to Toys R Us and buy them a toy and make them smile.”
Lutnick and the Cantor Fitzgerald family were joined by state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park), U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), Borough President Helen Marshall and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said the federal government should be “as generous, as caring and as thoughtful as Cantor Fitzgerald” when voting on hurricane relief funds.
“What the Cantor family has done exemplifies the very best of New York. We are all very much like family — there are times when we disagree and we argue, but when we need each other, we come together,” he said. “Instead of cursing the darkness, they lit candles. And they are lighting up the lives of 10,000 families.”
Cantor’s relief fund, run by Lutnick’s sister Edie, was established to aid the families of Cantor employees who died Sept. 11, but its scope has since expanded to include numerous charities around the world. Each year on the anniversary of the attacks, the company donates the day’s revenues to charity and employees donate their day’s pay. The effort raised $12 million last September.
This year, families like that of Far Rockaway’s Harry Frazier stand to benefit from the extreme generosity of a company eager to transform tragedy into hope.
“This money is going to help immensely and we are so appreciative of the support from a big company like Cantor Fitzgerald,” said Frazier, with young daughter Dyanie in his arms. “My heart goes out to families in the area that lost so much more than we did.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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