- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

A widow could give only $3.50 while a charity gave $70,000, but every cent in the Victims Rights Foundation's special fund for sniper victims went to either the survivors or their families, an outside auditor said yesterday.
"Every cent," said Rich Brunner of Zimmerman and Associates, who explained that no money was spent on phones, rent or other expenses because the foundation already had those resources in its Gaithersburg office.
The $260,000 was divided equally among the victims on Friday night at a private ceremony.
When one of the 14 victims expressed guilt because he had not suffered more serious injuries, others at the ceremony comforted him and said they were thankful that he survived, said Gregory Wims, the foundation's president and founder.
"It wasn't sad," he said. "It was rather uplifting."
Mr. Wims said Rupinder Oberoi, who was shot and wounded Sept. 14 outside Hillandale Beer and Wine in Silver Spring, was included because the attack fit the snipers' pattern of a "random shooting."
Mr. Wims started the foundation in 1996 after three Washington-area women were killed. The foundation usually helps two or three families each year through prayer vigils, fund-raising for rewards and assisting during the legal process.
Checks of $18,571.43 were given to each surviving family or victim of last month's attacks in Maryland, Virginia or the District. Mr. Wims said that about 800 volunteers helped process roughly 2,000 tax-deductible checks and that the average contribution was $50.
"Some of these families will have massive bills to pay, including mortgages and payments for funeral services," said Ellen Alexander, Montgomery County's director of volunteer and community resources. Most of the victims were primary wage earners for their families.
Among the biggest contributions was the $70,00 check from the AmeriDream Charity of Gaithersburg.
"Our employees wanted to do whatever they could to help," said Chris Russell, the charity's chief executive officer.
Foundation administrators expect to collect about $30,000 more before January, when the final checks will be distributed and the campaign ends.
Meanwhile, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is to announce more details today about the roughly $500,000 in rewards for people who gave information that leading to the arrest and prosecution of the sniper suspects.


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