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ORLANDO-Believed to be the first of its kind, David A. Siegel, chairman of Central Florida Investments Inc., the largest independent time share owner in Florida, is creating the Westgate Resorts Foundation to rival the established Heart of Florida United Way.

Dissatisfied with the lack of charity-donating choices over the past 20 years, Siegel’s project sets up twin funds with company committees that will select the recipients for the donations locally as well as within the 5,000-employee company itself.

“Charity begins at home,” the blunt-spoken developer, tells GlobeSt.com. “We’ll help others in the community, of course, but our people come first.”

The program will be formally announced to CFI employees by Aug. 1. Siegel personally will fund the foundation’s startup operations. He wants to raise $1 million in the next 18 months. His employees contributed $500,000 or 2.3% of United Way’s $21.6 million raised in 2000.

Paradoxically, Siegel, 62, remains a United Way board member and will continue to make personal donations to the agency.

The national Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a Washington, D.C.-based charity watchdog group, confirms Siegel’s foundation is a first. “There is nothing wrong with United Way,” Siegel tells GlobeSt.com. “All we want to do is give our people a better choice of where to donate their money.”

As he completes plans for the foundation, the former Miami Beach, FL entrepreneur expects to close by year end on 30 acres at Coco Beach, Rio Grande, next to the Paradisus Coco Beach Resort where he plans to erect his first 250-unit time share project in Puerto Rico.

Central Florida Investments Inc. is a 32-year-old holding company for Siegel’s resort and commercial real estate ventures. CFI’s annual average gross sales are $300 million, largely from the Westgate family of resorts that comprise 3,200 existing villas; 3,200 villas under development; and 120,000 time share owners.

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