ERIE (AP) -- The first payments of a $100 million anonymous gift to 46 charitable groups in Erie have begun to arrive and the recipients must decide how to use their shares of the windfall, which they first learned of last summer.

"It's a good kind of stress. It's a great problem to have," said Linda Hackshaw, chief operating officer of Vision and Blindness Resources. "It's a responsibility to do the most and the best good we possibly can."

She said her group decided to put "a good chunk" of the installment into an endowment with the Erie Community Foundation and the rest into a reserve fund.

The Erie City Mission decided to pay off debt and use some of the money for a capital campaign to build a new mission and women's center.

Al Messina, executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Erie, said his group is using the money for an endowment.

"It's comforting to think we will have this endowment to support us as we look to the future," he said.

Mike Batchelor, president of the Erie Community Foundation, which is distrubuting the money, said Thursday that about $33 million has been distributed in the last six weeks. The distribution was originally scheduled to take place during a three-year period that would start in 2009.

Batchelor said trustees approved dispersing the money earlier than planned. Now, the cycle of installments changes to this year, 2009 and 2010.

Recipients could take the installment as a grant, use it for an endowment or combine of the two, Batchelor said.

"It's totally up to them what they want to do," Batchelor said.

Batchelor and other foundation officials are sworn to secrecy, saying only that the donor -- identified only as an "anonymous friend" -- had worked with the organization for years to identify deserving recipients before the announcement late last summer.

The donor put no restrictions on the use of the money but encouraged the charities to use the funds to create endowments through Erie Community Foundation. Nearly 500 charitable endowments operate under the administration of the foundation.

Most recipients are human services agencies. Three local universities also will get money.

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