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The Daily Tar Heel

Donations Slow for Car Fund

Tom Benfield, who lives in Cedar Grove, started a fund to solicit donations to help Mindy Guadagnino, whose 1997 Honda Accord suffered about $1,500 worth of damage, according to court documents. Students celebrating UNC's victory over Duke on Feb. 1 overturned the car and broke the windshield.

Benfield said he started the fund because he believed the vandalism gave a negative image of Tar Heel fans and he wanted to do something to change that image. But Benfield said he is disappointed by the lack of support the fund is receiving. "I checked last Friday evening and the balance was $675, which is mighty low," he said. "I thought we'd get a lot more support."

He said the recent arrests of UNC students in connection with the damage to Guadagnino's car have not boosted donations. Al McSurely, attorney for Guadagnino, said they are working on a finalized damage estimate, which Guadagnino claims is more than $1,500.

McSurely would not comment on how much Guadagnino's insurance company would pay for the damage.

"The insurance company will want to get whatever money it can from the young men," McSurely said. "It doesn't make much difference what the insurance company will pay."

Benfield said Student Body President Brad Matthews sent out an e-mail encouraging students to contribute, adding that although student government supports the fund, a campus policy prevents the use of facilities to solicit funds for an individual.

Benfield said he did not think that the donations have tapered off because of the amount of time that has passed.

"It was even slow from the very start," Benfield said. "Last week, I don't think (the balance) changed all week."

Because he is not receiving much support from the student body, Benfield said he is turning to UNC alumni for help.

Benfield said the Carolina Alumni Review will feature an article on the fund in the next issue, but he said he is running out of options. He said he had originally hoped stand University Mall or the Smith Center before a home game to raise money, but both places would not allow him to solicit funds on their premises.

McSurely said Guadagnino appreciates the support from Benfield, but that has not been her main concern.

"What we are concerned about is what happens with the prosecution of the young men who overturned her car," McSurely said. "We certainly appreciate the outpouring of support and sympathy for Mindy."

But McSurely feels those responsible for the vandalism should take responsibility for their actions. "It seems unfair to make two possibly three pay for what five or six may have done," he said.

Benfield said he does not think the arrests of responsible parties should affect the donations.

"This is not about who's responsible for destroying her car. It's an opportunity to help someone who was an innocent bystander."

Benfield said donations can still be made at any local Central Carolina Bank branch.

"If people don't want to go to the bank, I'd be glad to pick it up for them."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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