Website helps charitable efforts locally


By Terri Flagg - tflagg@civitasmedia.com



Junior Gonzalez embraces teacher Shelley Higgins, Central Middle School, during a visit from school officials who presented the family with fundraising proceeds. Gonzalez, a 15-year-old freshman at Surry Central High School, was injured in a hit-and-run accident while waiting for the bus.


Terri Flagg | The News

A tornado at the end of February damaged homes in Ararat, Virginia, at the end of February. A GoFundMe account helped raise donations for affected families.


Andy Winemiller | The News

Donations through GoFundMe helped pay for training of a service dog for 4-year-old Madilyn Kelly, of Cana, Virginia.


Submitted photo

More than $74 million has been raised in North Carolina this year through online donations, and several needy people in this area have been among the recipients.

GoFundMe, the world’s largest social fundraising platform, said this week that people in the Tar Heel State have started 93,000 campaigns through its website. Those efforts have earned 1.2 million donations for $74.4 million.

In the Piedmont Triad area alone (Winston-Salem, High Point and Greensboro), GoFundMe said that 15,000 campaigns had drawn 161,000 donations and $9.7 million raised.

Surry County residents seem to have put the technology to good use.

From a “hot dog fundraiser” to storm relief efforts to helping an injured high school student with medical expenses, locals have shown their giving spirit in many different ways.

Administrators of a GoFundMe campaign set up a page that tells the story behind the cause, which they can update.

Visitors to the page can see how close the campaign is to a goal, who else has donated and how much, and most importantly, that they can donate with a few clicks.

The pages are easily sharable through social media and can also be viewed by people that may have never even heard of Surry County.

• For example, a Rick A. Hanson donated $50 to a relief effort for those whose homes were damaged when a tornado ripped through Ararat, Virginia.

“I’m from Boston but I saw the destruction a few hours after it happened! Best wishes to all affected,” Hansen posted.

The Ararat Tornado Home Loss Assistance page raised $3,700 from 48 people.

For many local efforts, GoFundMe was used in conjuction with more traditional fundraising methods.

• For example, held on Dec. 10 was a Christmas Sweater Party supporting Sending Smiles, a non-profit organization founded by Mount Airy resident Laura Phelps that works to provide dental care to those in need both internationally and locally.

Tickets to the party were sold through the site as well as at local businesses.

Many folks exceeded the $20 admission price with donations up to $500 made through the site.

A total of $3,190 was donated to the organization by 19 people.

• The local community also used a variety of means to help the family of Junior Gonzalez with medical expenses, including a GoFundMe page.

Gonzalez, a 15-year-old freshmen at Surry Central High School, was critically injured on Feb. 25 after a driver of what police described as a white, newer model SUV plowed into a group of kids waiting for the bus on East Atkins Road and fled the scene.

With only about 600 students enrolled in Central Middle School, a charity event brought in $1,400.

Students, staff and faculty who participated wore red t-shirts to school that day and brought in enough spare change to collect $1,200.

Surry Central principal Celia Hodges said Surry Central staff and faculty put together a $400 “love offering” for the student and a student-led T-shirt sale at the school has so far raised more than $600.

In addition to the schools’ efforts, the GoFundMe.com campaign raised about $630.

The page set up for Gonzalez also showed that the internet can be a forum to spread positive messages.

“You are a hero and you will recover and the world will (be) a much better place,” wrote Walter Bunn.

“Junior, my family has been praying for you. You are at the best hospital with the best doctor and staff! Trust me, I know. Stay Strong! You got this!” wrote Celia Escalante.

“I hope the best for you man. You are a hero,” wrote Samuel Parral.

• Another local family used the site to help raise money to get training for a service dog for their 3-year-old autistic daughter.

“We set up a GoFundMe account and had a hot dog fundraiser,” explained Melissa Wall, the child’s mother. “Many kind people donated money. One anonymous donor gave $500. He didn’t even know us.”

Wall said various local businesses also helped with fundraising efforts.

• The Surry North 11U Blue Claws, who won the Cal Ripken Area 2 baseball championship and finished as runners-up in a WNC tournament, qualified for the Cal Ripken Southeast Regionals in Williamsburg, Va. in July.

A GoFundMe page was setup to help with travel expenses for the team to attend the tournament.

• For classmates of Teara Draughon, online fundraising was really the only option. Draughon’s husband, Kevin Draughon, had been diagnosed in October with late-stage colon cancer.

Before he died the week of Thanksgiving, Kevin insisted that Teara, a nurse, keep going with classes toward her master’s degree in nursing through a distance learning program.

Ellie Mears Ward, of Portsmouth, Virginia, started a GoFundMe page to help the Pinnacle family cope with the double whammy of medical bills and lost wages.

“As distance students, we are all too far away to help this sweet young family in person,” said Ward. “One thing we can do is try to relieve some of the pressure of medical bills.”

As of mid-December, the account had earned $4,205 of the $5,000 goal. The campaign is ongoing. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/teara-kevinmedical?ssid=849906912&pos=1.

Junior Gonzalez embraces teacher Shelley Higgins, Central Middle School, during a visit from school officials who presented the family with fundraising proceeds. Gonzalez, a 15-year-old freshman at Surry Central High School, was injured in a hit-and-run accident while waiting for the bus.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_160310_Gonzalez-1.jpgJunior Gonzalez embraces teacher Shelley Higgins, Central Middle School, during a visit from school officials who presented the family with fundraising proceeds. Gonzalez, a 15-year-old freshman at Surry Central High School, was injured in a hit-and-run accident while waiting for the bus. Terri Flagg | The News

A tornado at the end of February damaged homes in Ararat, Virginia, at the end of February. A GoFundMe account helped raise donations for affected families.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_TornadoRec1.jpgA tornado at the end of February damaged homes in Ararat, Virginia, at the end of February. A GoFundMe account helped raise donations for affected families. Andy Winemiller | The News

Donations through GoFundMe helped pay for training of a service dog for 4-year-old Madilyn Kelly, of Cana, Virginia.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Zoomi.jpgDonations through GoFundMe helped pay for training of a service dog for 4-year-old Madilyn Kelly, of Cana, Virginia. Submitted photo

By Terri Flagg

tflagg@civitasmedia.com

Reach Terri at 415-4734.

Reach Terri at 415-4734.

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