Bron­cos an­nounce plans for $12 mil­lion in do­na­tion money


Lethbridge Herald - - ODDS & ENDS - Maija Kap­pler THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

The GoFundMe page ded­i­cated to the Hum­boldt Bron­cos, be­lieved to be the largest of its kind in Cana­dian his­tory, will re­main open for two more days be­fore be­ing trans­ferred to a newly cre­ated memo­rial fund, the team’s of­fi­cials an­nounced Mon­day.

More than 130,000 in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses from Canada and other coun­tries have do­nated be­tween $20 and $50,000 to the GoFundMe cam­paign, called Funds for Hum­boldt Bron­cos. The cam­paign was started by Hum­boldt res­i­dent Sylvie Kelling­ton af­ter the hor­rific bus crash ear­lier this month, which killed 16 play­ers and staff. In nine days, the on­line cam­paign has raised more than $12 mil­lion.

Hum­boldt Bron­cos pres­i­dent Kevin Garinger an­nounced at a news con­fer­ence in Saska­toon that the cam­paign will re­main open un­til mid­night Wed­nes­day, at which point all funds will be trans­ferred to the new Hum­boldt Bron­cos Memo­rial Fund. The $12 mil­lion raised will serve its in­tended pur­pose of pay­ing for ex­penses of the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, Garinger said, adding that it’s too soon to give a more spe­cific break­down of the way the funds will be al­lo­cated.

“Sylvie was hop­ing to raise $5,000 to maybe buy cof­fee and sup­port maybe park­ing, and that sort of thing, to help fam­i­lies,” he said. “It of course grew much larger than that.”

Garinger also said the team will con­tinue to ac­cept do­na­tions through an­other new or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Hum­boldt Strong Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, which he said will “sup­port Hum­boldt Bron­cos play­ers, em­ploy­ees, fam­i­lies and vol­un­teers, as well as first re­spon­ders and emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel, teams, ath­letes, re­lated or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­mu­ni­ties af­fected by the crash.”

The cre­ation of the new foun­da­tion will clear up any ex­ist­ing con­fu­sion about which memo­rial items are con­sid­ered to be sanc­tioned by the team. From now on, only ini­tia­tives that di­rect their pro­ceeds to the Hum­boldt Strong Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion will be con­sid­ered of­fi­cially en­dorsed by the Bron­cos as an or­ga­ni­za­tion, Garinger said.

In re­cent days, con­cerns have been mount­ing about the sale of unau­tho­rized mer­chan­dise that uses the team’s name, logo, or the slo­gan “Hum­boldt Strong” with­out do­nat­ing any of the funds to the vic­tims or their fam­i­lies.

It’s com­mon for peo­ple to want to buy items that will al­low them to show their sup­port af­ter a tragic event, says Tim­o­thy De­whirst, a mar­ket­ing and con­sumer stud­ies pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Guelph.

“There’s of­ten, af­ter a tragedy like this, dif­fer­ent dis­plays of sup­port and sol­i­dar­ity that we might see,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of peo­ple dis­play­ing green rib­bons and dis­play­ing hockey sticks at their front door.”

But the po­ten­tial prob­lem with unau­tho­rized mer­chan­dise is that con­sumers may as­sume that any sale con­nected to an event like the bus crash in­cludes a do­na­tion, when not all of them do.

On­line re­tail­ers like Red­bub­ble, which al­low users to up­load their own de­signs and pays them a por­tion of the prof­its, of­fer dozens of T-shirt de­signs fea­tur­ing Hum­boldtre­lated lo­gos, as well as cell­phone cases, mugs, tote bags, and more, but the prod­ucts don’t men­tion do­na­tions of any kind. Red­bub­ble did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Other web­sites like Teep­ub­lic and Teezily, which also al­low users to up­load their own work, sim­i­larly of­fer many Hum­boldt Bron­cos prod­ucts, most of which don’t men­tion a do­na­tion, al­though some prod­ucts do link to the GoFundMe page.

In cases like this, the re­spon­si­bil­ity is shared be­tween the re­tailer and the con­sumer, De­whirst says.

The choice to sell prod­ucts that ref­er­ence the bus crash but don’t ben­e­fit any of the vic­tims “cer­tainly doesn’t ap­pear very eth­i­cal,” he says. “Many (peo­ple) would have a moral stance on try­ing to cap­i­tal­ize fi­nan­cially on a tragedy.”

De­whirst also sug­gests con­sumers re­search char­i­ta­ble prod­ucts be­fore pur­chas­ing them. If pro­ceeds are “largely be­ing used in terms of ad­min­is­tra­tion and lo­gis­tics, rather than ac­tu­ally go­ing to the peo­ple in need, that would be a dis­ap­point­ing use of the money,” he says.

Mer­chan­dise doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be of­fi­cially au­tho­rized by the team to pro­vide a char­i­ta­ble func­tion. Some com­pa­nies like Gong­show Gear and Sauce Hockey are ad­ver­tis­ing that 100 per cent of the pro­ceeds of the Hum­boldt­themed shirts they sell will go to the Bronco’s GoFundMe page.

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