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ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- Donors from around the world are pledging money to help the families of the 10 Amish shooting victims in amounts ranging from $1 to $500,000, The Associated Press reported.
All 238 Turkey Hill Minit Market convenience stores in Pennsylvania are accepting donations, as are numerous regional banks, and Wal-Mart has started coin drops at three of its Lancaster County stores.
"For the Amish community, it's a bit overwhelming because they are not actively asking for any funds," said Scott Sundberg, spokesman for Mennonite Disaster Service, an agency collecting pledges on behalf of the Amish. "They know this is at least one way that people can show their concern."
Among other donors are Capital BlueCross, which pledged $500,000 to help pay the survivors' medical expenses. At the other end of the financial spectrum, 20 African missionary churches have each promised to contribute $1, according to Kevin King, executive director of Mennonite Disaster Service, the report stated.
As of Thursday, the agency had received about 200 credit-card donations -- in amounts ranging from $20 to $100 -- for a total of $15,000, said Ron Guenther, the agency's director of finance. Calls have come in from the United States and Canada as well as from Argentina, Germany, Vietnam and other nations.
"It's not big monies at this point, but that could easily change," said Guenther, especially since a number of corporations have contacted the agency about donating.
A nine-person panel, called the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee, formed Wednesday to decide how the money will be distributed. Seven Amish elders and two non-Amish sit on the panel, according to the report.
"There has been a widespread public outpouring of support and sympathy and it is the intention of the Amish that funds be used in a responsible manner," said Richie Lauer, director of the Anabaptist Foundation, another agency collecting funds.
Amish do not carry private commercial health insurance, according to Lauer, and the families of the five surviving victims could face steep medical bills.
However, the Amish of Lancaster County do have their own informal self-insured health plan called Church Aid that helps members with catastrophic medical expenses, according to Donald Kraybill, an Amish expert at Elizabethtown College. About two-thirds of the Amish enroll, he said.
Hospital officials declined Thursday to provide any information about medical expenses, citing the families' request for privacy.
Checks with "Amish School Recovery Fund" written in the memo line may be sent by mail to The Anabaptist Foundation, Nickel Mines School Victims Fund, P.O. Box 27, Mifflinburg, PA 17844 or Mennonite Disaster Service, 1018 Main St., Akron, PA 17501.
At the behest of Amish leaders, a fund has also been set up for the family of gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV, the 32-year-old milk truck driver who shot 10 girls, killing five of them, before turning the gun on himself.
Fulton Bank set up an account in the name of Roberts' widow, Marie, on Thursday after securing permission through her minister, said bank spokeswoman Laura Wakeley.
"They really had nothing to do with this and now they are without a husband and a father, a source of support for the family," she said.