U groups raise money for fire victims

Chelsie Hanstad

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Student government leaders began a fund-raising effort Tuesday to benefit students displaced by Saturday’s Dinkytown house fire.

Minnesota Student Association President Eric Dyer said MSA will contribute $1,600 to help students pay housing and textbook costs for the rest of the semester.

“This guarantees they’ll have money until the end of the semester to pay for rent, and hopefully books,” Dyer said.

He said he is talking with the University of Minnesota Foundation about administering the fund and that he hopes the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly will match MSA’s donation.

GAPSA President Todd Powell said his organization is planning a donation and finalizing an amount.

“It’s been a great tragedy for the neighborhood,” said Powell, who lived in the area as an undergraduate.

MSA has set up an address to receive donations and already had some response.

“The check’s in the mail,” said Mary Darling, a retired University professor in food science and nutrition.

She said she also e-mailed friends encouraging them to do the same.

“I advised incoming students. I know how hard it is to make ends meet, and it has only gotten harder,” Darling said. “I was concerned about those who had lost their lives, of course, but I’m really glad the student association identified ways to Ö help those who survived. I hope they’ll be able to get back on their feet.”

The University is already helping the four displaced students find housing. Until now, the four were staying with friends.

“We are doing all that we can to assist those students who have lost their homes and belongings in this tragic fire,” Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Gerald Rinehart said in a statement. He said they are also working with the instructors regarding the students’ course assignments and deadlines.

A University e-mail sent to students Tuesday listed safety resources for students living off campus. It included topics such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, in addition to counseling services. Parents also received a similar e-mail with updates on the fire.

The University will hold a memorial service Friday for the three students who died in the fire – Brian Heiden, Amanda Speckien and Elizabeth Wencl. It will take place at 4 p.m. at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, located on the West Bank.

-Libby George contributed to this report.


Visitation and Funeral Notices

Brian Heiden:
Visitation: 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home, 208 Main Street, Racine, Wis., and 10:45 a.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2201 Northwestern Ave., Racine, Wis.
Mass: 11 a.m. Thursday, Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Amanda Speckien: Visitation: 4-8 p.m. Wednesday at Holcomb-Henry-Boom North Chapel, 515 Hwy. 96 at Mackubin, Shoreview, Minn.
Service: 2 p.m. Thursday at White Bear Lake United Methodist Church, 1851 Birch St., White Bear Lake, Minn.

Elizabeth Wencl:
Visitation: 1-2 p.m. Wednesday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 609 Lincoln Ave., Owatonna, Minn.
Service: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Trinity Lutheran Church.