There’s no other way to say it: things are bad. More than half a million people in the country have died after contracting COVID-19. Texans are still recovering from a devastating weather disaster. And GoFundMe seems to be the only barricade between living and falling into a deeper pit of poverty and hardship for reasons completely beyond our control.
Luckily crowdfunding still provides a way for people to contribute to one another’s survival during the chaos of 2021. One Ohio mother received more than $165,000 in financial donations after being arrested for leaving her children in a motel room so that she could work.
As NBC 10 reports, Shaina Bell was arrested in Liberty Township, Ohio, and charged with two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment after she left two of her children, alone in the Motel 6 room where they live.
“I had to go to work. My daughter decided that she wanted to stay here,” Bell told WKBN. “I felt that she was old enough to be able to stay here with her sister for a few hours because my job is right down the street.”
It’s easy to employ racism and misogyny to criticize a 24-year-old mother of three working to keep her kids fed on the criminal wages of Little Caesars, instead of interrogating the conditions that force a mother to make that kind of choice. It would have been easy for Bell to become an incarcerated victim of criminalized poverty and yet another statistic.
“Women are dammed [sic] if they do or damned if they don’t,” Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego tweeted in response to the story. “Stay at home with your kids and receive government assistance and you are a leach, go to work for poverty wages and can’t get consistent sitters and go to jail.”
Fortunately others emphasized with her struggle and opened their wallets instead.
“My kids bring me joy. They make me laugh. They’re my world,” Bell said. “I would never do anything to harm my kids. My kids are everything to me. That’s all I do is go to work and take care of my kids. That’s all I do.”
A GoFundMe was created to help Bell secure permanent housing for her family with a goal of $5,000. The page has since passed $165,600. Bell told reporters she plans to use the money to buy a house for her children.
“A lot of people are saying hurtful things, but a lot of people are also being there for me and showing great support,” she said. “I have over $100,000 in a GoFundMe account right now. I didn’t ask for that, but people gave it to me, and I’m just over appreciative to what’s going on.”