updated 6/7/2007 12:08:32 AM ET 2007-06-07T04:08:32

Virginia Tech has taken $3.2 million, almost half of the money donated to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund in the aftermath of the shootings that left 33 people dead, and created 32 funds to honor each of the victims.

The funds, individually set up in the names of the 27 students and five faculty members killed in the April 16 shooting spree by student Seung-Hui Cho, are fully endowed at $100,000. How the money will be used will be determined by each victim's family, the university said in a news release Wednesday.

A fund was not set up for Cho, who ended the massacre by taking his own life.

The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, set up immediately after the tragedy, has received approximately $7 million in donations from nearly 20,000 sources as large as the New York Yankees and as small as Little League Baseball teams.

"People all over the world could not have been nicer for showing their support for Virginia Tech," said Elizabeth Flanagan, the school's vice president for development and university relations, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

"We had no idea how many friends we really had."

'One big family'
Flanagan recalled a conversation with a Hurricane Katrina victim who, despite having lost his home, called to say he was sending $10 to show his support for the "Hokie family."

"It is one big family and now we have a lot of extended members," Flanagan said.

Officials anticipate the first awards from each fund will be made this fall.

"It's a noble gesture," said Paul Turner, father of 22-year-old Maxine Turner, of Vienna, Va., who was killed just weeks before she was to receive an honors degree and start a chemical engineering job. "The school is definitely doing a lot of things to try and support the families of the victims."

But Turner said he believes it shows the school is acknowledging "there were some errors made on the day and they're trying to put things right."

Turner also said there are other things the fund should go toward — for example, putting aside money for siblings of the victims to pay for undergraduate degrees.

Funding for scholarships, services
Peter Read, whose daughter Mary Karen Read was killed, said "it's really been humbling and gratifying" to see the generosity of others in supporting the fund.

It's likely the endowment set up in the name of Mary Read will be used to fund a scholarship for an interdisciplinary studies major who plans to pursue elementary education as a career, like Mary Read planned to do, her father said.

Virginia Tech said it plans to use some of the funds for things like paying for undergraduate education expenses for children of deceased faculty and financial counseling and mental health services for victims' families.

It also intends to help pay tuition and fees for injured students through spring semester 2008 as well as some of their medical costs. The fund also will pay for several full-time family advocates to work with the victims' families and make sure they receive proper services in a timely manner.

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