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Columbine victims divided over dividing donations

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) -- Spiraling medical bills. Mental health services. Assistance for rent and living expenses.

Divvying up the nearly $5 million in donations to meet the needs of the survivors of the Columbine High School massacre and victims' families is proving a Herculean task."You have a large number of victims. They all express different thoughts on how they think the money should be utilized and distributed," said Robin Finegan of the Colorado Organization for Victims' Assistance. "It is in many ways a no-win situation."

Fifteen people died in the rampage on April 20: the two teenage gunmen, 12 other students and a teacher. Twenty-three others were hurt.

In all, there are more than 30 funds devoted to medical bills, memorials, scholarships and community counseling. The school district is also receiving donations.

Some believe more money should be given to teenage survivors who have mounting medical bills. Others advocate equal distribution to survivors and the families of the dead. And some have proposed all of the students who weren't wounded get a share, too.

Organizers hope questionnaires handed out to victims' families will help provide answers as to how to dole out the donations.

Some families say they cannot afford to wait.

"Monetary support should not be held hostage when there are real-life urgent needs that some of these families face," said Sam Riddle, a spokesman for the family of slain 18-year-old Isaiah Shoels.

So far, $390,000 has been dispensed, including $5,000 to the families of each person killed or injured, $150,000 to support a mental health center and $50,000 to the Colorado victims' group.

But medical bills continue to mount and some students will probably need years of surgery and physical and mental therapy. Those without medical insurance are causing the biggest drain.

Medical bills for Lance Kirklin, a 16-year-old whose jaw was shattered by gunfire, have already topped $1 million. He was not insured.