How can you help Boston? One Fund sets up rules to help victims. (+video)

One Fund Boston, the focal point of charitable giving after the bombings, already has $20 million on hand. Now it has set up a structure for how and when the money will be paid out.

By , Staff writer

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    Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney who managed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, speaks at a news conference in Boston, Tuesday. Feinberg will design and be administrator of One Fund Boston, which will help people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
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A fund to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings announced details about how payouts will be handled, setting a process for distributions to begin by June 30.

The One Fund Boston already has $20 million on hand, after an outpouring of giving in the week since twin explosions rocked the marathon’s finish line, killing three and injuring more than 200 others.

The amount collected so far “cannot begin to make all these victims whole,” said Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney tapped by fund organizers to administer the payouts.

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Mr. Feinberg, who also managed the victims compensation fund after the much larger 9/11 terrorist attacks, said he’ll set a process for victims to apply for help.

He said two town hall meetings will be scheduled to provide feedback on a draft protocol. Then claim forms will be made available on the fund’s website by May 15, and people will have a month to register.

The One Fund Boston, backed by local businesses and publicized by state and city leaders, represents the focal point of charitable giving after the bombings. But it’s not the only effort at victim relief.

Feinberg noted that in some cases victims’ families have organized their own charitable funds.

Unlike the 9/11 fund, the One Fund represents donated gifts rather than taxpayer money. For that reason, payouts wouldn’t come with any strings attached, such as restrictions on victims who might want to consider lawsuits related to the tragedy.

He said eligibility would not depend on where the victims live, whether they are American citizens, or whether they are also eligible for insurance payments or Social Security Disability benefits. He said the purpose to help those affected by physical injuries, not affected local businesses.

“What’s important is a link to this terrible tragedy,” he said. “I doubt very much that we’ll have a major problem of fraud,” he added, but “we will take steps to make sure that all of the claims, every one of them, is legitimate.”

The latest estimate is that 282 people were injured in the explosions. According to early reports from local hospitals, at least 17 people were in critical condition after the blasts, many because they lost limbs.

Feinberg said determining how to allocate the money would inevitably involve judgment calls, and that “the buck stops with me…. I’ll take the heat.”

When the Boston Red Sox held their first home game after the bombings, the players wore special jerseys, which the team said would be auctioned off to support the fund. Online bidding for the jersey of David Ortiz, who gave a pregame speech, has already topped $10,000.

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