Several high-level government officials and business leaders are trying to find new ways to help Coloradans impacted by mass tragedies, while at the same time, allow people to donate without fear their money won't end up in the hands of those affected by such events.

The new nonprofit, to be called the Colorado Healing Fund, is the brainchild of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, among others.

It is designed to provide a safe, secure way for the public to donate money to support victims and their families after a mass casualty crime that occurs in the state, such as a shooting.

"It's impossible to predict when a tragedy will happen," Coffman said. "It's not something we want to think about. But because Colorado has been the center of mass violence before, we must be prepared to take care of victims."

The nonprofit, which begins with $1 million seed money from Coffman's office, includes a wide range of leaders on its board of directors, including former Colorado secretary of state and Grand Junction Rep. Bernie Buescher.

That new 11-member board also includes the former principal of Columbine High School in Littleton, Frank DeAngelis, who worked at the school when it was then the site of the nation's worst high school shooting, in April 1999. Since then, there have been far worse mass school shootings.

The board also includes business leaders, university officials and even a retired Colorado adjutant general, Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards.

"When tragic events happen that lean heavily on community resources, victims and survivors need both immediate and long-term help," DeAngelis said.

"The generosity and support of the community magnifies and multiplies us, giving us the capacity to do those things that need to be done but which we cannot do alone." Coffman said there is a need for such a nonprofit because it doesn't take long before some illegitimate group swoops in and tries to take advantage of people's generosity by creating fake charities.

Coffman's consumer protection division is constantly watching for such groups.

"I've seen money from good-hearted people land in the hands of scammers who take advantage of tragic circumstances rather than help those who desperately need it," Coffman said. "That's why my office seeded the fund with $1 million. The (fund) will provide a safe way for Coloradans to donate confidently now and in the event of a mass tragedy crime, and ensure that their money goes to help victims, survivors and families."

For more information about the fund, go to ColoradoHealingFund.org.

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