Tragedy inspires a community’s support


The Appalachian Online

Tommy Culkin

Mandie Phillips, an Appalachian State University senior, passed away after a fatal automobile accident Dec. 20, 2014.

However, the tragedy has led to an outpouring of support from those who knew her.

Phillips had a joint-lease in a house with two other students, Ashlee and Olivia Sabins, whose landlord refused to adjust their rent, requiring them to pay Phillips’ portion until they could find a subleaser.

Despite the circumstances, Ashlee Sabins said she does not resent the landlord.

“We don’t know if [the landowner] is unwilling or unable to offer us financial help,” Ashlee Sabins said. “Maybe renting out this house is his only source of income. There are a lot of things that can explain his not cutting the rent back.”

Katelyn Mcquatters, a junior economics major and friend of Phillips, started a fundraiser which can be found at to help pay the rent.

“I honestly didn’t think it would make a difference, so I just told [Mcquatters] to go ahead and do it,” Ashlee Sabins said.

The actual response could not have been further from the expectation. Mcquatters said the fundraiser met its goal within the first 24 hours. As of press time, the fundraiser had surpassed its $1,500 goal, raising $1,742.

“It’s crazy to see that it wasn’t just a couple people giving us huge lump sums of money,” Mcquatters said. “It was a bunch of people giving $5 and $10, so it’s crazy to see how many people wanted to help, even if they knew they couldn’t give a lot.”

Ashlee Sabins said all the additional money raised will go to the Phillips family who will donate the money to a charity Mandie Phillips would have liked. Phillips’ friends said she always embodied a philanthropic nature.

“She was always giving more than I think she even had, but that was just her spirit,” Mcquatters said.

In addition, Ashlee Sabins said she will be selling bracelets around campus. The bracelets won’t have a fixed price, so the buyer can decide how much they want to donate.

“Even if you’ve only got some loose change, that’s fine,” Ashlee Sabins said.

Inscribed on the bracelets will be the phrase, “Mandie for President.”

“Mandie always said she was going to become president one day,” Ashlee Sabins said.

The money raised by the bracelet sale will go toward travel expenses and other costs for bringing the Phillips family to Boone for a memorial service.

“We just want to show the Phillips family how much of a support system they have here at Appalachian State University,” Ashlee Sabins said. “This is such a great campus and university, I don’t doubt for a second that the service will be wonderful.”
The service will be held on Jan. 24 at 3 p.m. in IG Greer Hall, and will be a celebration of her life rather than a time of mourning.

“Mandie was something else,” Ashlee Sabins said. “She was a voice of our generation, that’s for sure.”

Story: Tommy Culkin, News Reporter