- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech has distributed more than $8.5 million in donations to surviving victims of the mass killings on campus in April, school leaders said yesterday.

Families of the 32 persons killed by gunman Seung-hui Cho, a Virginia Tech student, were eligible for cash payments or a combination of funds and endowed scholarships in the victims’ names.

Funds also were distributed to more than two dozen who were injured in the classroom building where Cho killed most of his victims and himself, as well as people who were uninjured but in the classrooms during the rampage.

“We make these distributions knowing there’s only so much they can do,” university President Charles Steger said. “We can’t bring back these young people.”

All 79 persons and families eligible to receive payments and benefits applied to do so, and monetary distributions were made Monday evening.

Families of those killed were eligible for $208,000 in cash or a combination of funds and endowed scholarships.

The five most severely injured received $104,000 plus free tuition as long as they attend Virginia Tech. Eight less severely injured were due $46,000 plus free tuition. The 34 other victims received either $11,500 or free tuition.

An additional $860,000 in donations was designated to honor specific victims. That money will be combined with amounts designated by the families for scholarships, Mr. Steger said.

The money came from 21,000 private donations made to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund that ranged from a few dollars to $1 million given by the New York Yankees. The fund was set up immediately after the April 16 killings, when people around the world began to send the university their condolences and money.

Mr. Steger mentioned a 2-pound box of pennies and nickels totaling $5.36 from a 7-year-old in North Carolina who told her father she wanted to give all the money she had to “Virginia, where the kids died.”

“That was the kind of very touching outpouring of support that we experienced,” he said.

Mr. Steger said the university distributed about $35,000 more than it had received. It will continue to accept donations through the end of the year; if it raises less than $35,000 by then, the president has a discretionary fund made up of foundation money that will cover the remainder.

About $1 million had been added to the fund in the last two months, including a $300,000 gift from the Atlantic Coast Conference and $100,000 from East Carolina University, which came to Blacksburg for the football season opener and lost to Virginia Tech 17-7.

The distributions were made under the direction of consultant Kenneth Feinberg, who also administered the government’s victim-compensation fund after the September 11 attacks. Mr. Feinberg volunteered to administer the Tech fund without compensation, Mr. Steger said.

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