NEW YORK — Dozens of New Yorkers from a neighborhood ravaged by Superstorm Sandy lined up in a school auditorium Thursday to receive $1,000 debit cards from a financial services firm that lost hundreds of employees in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"This is such a help to my little son who is emotionally challenged and lost everything," said Debbie Torres, clutching her cash card from the brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald. "God, thank you. These people here, thank you. Thank everybody."
Cantor Fitzgerald, whose Sept. 11 death toll of 658 was by far the largest of any employer, announced Thursday that it will "adopt" 19 schools in communities hit hard by Sandy and give a total of $10 million to families in those schools.
Cantor Fitzgerald, its relief fund and its affiliate BGC Partners are donating $1,000 each to 10,000 families to spend as they see fit. The schools are in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and New Jersey. Cantor officials joined elected leaders at Public School 256 in Far Rockaway on Thursday to start the effort.
"This is going to be used up in a heartbeat because we have nothing," said Theresa Ward, who said her neighborhood looked like a war zone after the storm hit on Oct. 29.
Each year on Sept. 11 the company donates the day's revenues to charity and employees donate their day's pay. The effort raised $12 million last September.
"We wanted to have a way that we could memorialize those that we lost in a way that was positive, and to do good things," Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund manager Edie Lutnick said.