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The donations keep pouring in. From little kids to large corporations, music telethons to comedy benefits, it seems everyone is giving in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Then what happens? Is the almost $700 million raised by more than 140 charities reaching those who need it?

Even those in the philanthropy business are asking that. "How do you figure out who all the victims are and make sure that they get a fair shake?" asks Stacey Palmer, TITLE? at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, WHAT IS THAT ORG.? "That's going to be the challenge for the charities in the next couple of weeks and months."


Millions of dollars were given out right away by the American Red Cross and other charities to the thousands who had to flee their homes, including families likes the Ortegas.

"When the second plane hit," says ___ Ortega, ANYTHING ABOUT HIM/HER, "we left with literally the clothes on our backs."

They got rent money for their temporary apartment, and vouchers for food and clothing, totaling $750.

Only now are families like the Raimondis coming forward for help. Peter Raimondi was an executive on the 92nd floor who was last seen in an elevator trying to escape.

"A miracle could happen," says his wife, Lenore. "You never know, right?"

While she continues to hope that her husband will be found, she finds herself responsible for family finances, which Peter always took care of for her and their two sons.

"It's just overwhelming because right now I want to focus on trying to find him," she says. "I can't think about anything financially at this point."

Until her husband's estate is settled, she found temporary help at a Red Cross Center, including living expenses for three months, money for car payments and for the boys' tuition.


So far less than 600 families of the missing and dead have applied for these short-term benefits of up to $30,000 each.

But all the charity money given out so far totals only a fraction of what's been donated. What's happening with the rest?

"Many of the charities, quite frankly, haven't yet begun to define with particularity what they intend to do with the money," says New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer, who has met with the major charities and government agencies to help them coordinate their giving.

There is also a large group of victims whose needs go far beyond the temporary help being offered.

Patti Schwartz, for example, not only lost her husband Mark, an emergency medical technician, but is also in dire financial straits.

"We kind of lived paycheck to paycheck. No savings," says the mother of two.

"They keep saying there's millions and millions of dollars ? they keep saying don't worry," says her daughter, Jennifer. "We don't know realistically how much money we're going to get of that."

While the family has received local help, they have no pension, little life insurance, and two kids in college.

"I do work, also," says Patti. "But he was the breadwinner and without his salary, I won't be able to make it."

Jennifer adds: "I'd rather him come home really than any money. It's terrible that at a time of my dad's death we need money, but we weren't expecting him to go."