The tornado in Moore, Okla, a natural disaster of tragic proportion, has had at least one bright spot: the story of Barbara Garcia who found her dog, Bowser, buried under rubble during a live TV interview.
Thanks to the efforts of Erin DeRuggiero, an entrepreneur focused on social impact, that bright spot may yet burn a little brighter. DeRuggiero is leading an online fundraising effort to help buy Garcia a new home. In little more than four days, the campaign has raised nearly $30,000 from more than 660 donors in such far-flung locations as Australia, the UK, and Tanzania.
In a phone conversation with The Huffington Post, DeRuggiero said she'd seen the original CBS segment with Garcia and "felt compelled to impact her life personally because she completely impacted mine."
She explains on the Gofundme fundraising page:
Barbara could have been my mother, my grandmother, my neighbor or my friend. I was shattered upon seeing her home destroyed, her recounting her experience and her joy upon seeing that her dog had survived it all. My goal is to ease her recovery, raise enough money to help her start to rebuild or relocate her life, and above all else, to show her that "life in the big city" also means helping one another, even from 1500 miles away.
Garcia didn't have homeowners insurance for her 3-bedroom home, says DeRuggiero, making her path back from homelessness that much more difficult.
In a follow-up interview with CBS, Garcia told the channel that she "didn't know (she) was that important." "I really and truly didn't. I just thank everybody."
DeRuggiero has been in touch with Garcia and her daughter, who also lost her house. Both are "thankful, humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and generosity." The fund has a stated goal of $50,000, which DeRuggiero is hoping might be matched by a corporate sponsor.
Donations to the 'Build Barbara Garcia a Home' campaign can be made online, here.
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