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From Patients To Pet Owners, Locals Say “Go Fund Me”

By Rebecca Lurye The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.).

Lucille Moultrie always says a closed mouth doesn't get fed.

Not that her wisdom made it any easier for her two granddaughters to ask for help after a fire destroyed Moultrie's Grays Hill mobile home five months ago. Still, the women prayed, leaned on Moultrie's church for support, and eventually took their plea public.

After creating a profile on GoFundMe.com, an increasingly popular crowd-funding website, granddaughter Paulette Moultrie raised $2,250 toward a down payment on a new mobile home for 'Cille. The 75-year-old Beaufort native can now stay on the land where she raised 14 kids, not to mention several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"She always taught us sometimes you have to put your pride aside to ask for help," said Paulette Moultrie, who grew up in the home that burned. "Thank God for the Internet, that's all I can say."

The Moultries are among more than two dozen locals who have created profiles on GoFundMe in recent months. The company could not say how many pages exist for Beaufort County, though donations to campaigns in the area increased about 400 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Illnesses, memorials and pet emergencies are among the most common causes on the site.

One such page, for an 11-year-old Leukemia patient, inspired Taylor Swift to donate a total of $50,000, prompting the company to raise its donation cap last week from $15,000 to $50,000.

Browse through local pages and you'll find similar trends, though some faces apparently stand out, such as Murphy, a corgi with a torn cornea and a dopey smile.

His owner raised nearly all of the $750 she needed for his treatment.

There are pages, though, for all manner of loss and hardship.

One Beaufort girl raised more than $700 toward plane fare to California for a cousin's funeral.

In Bluffton, a family has raised $5,630 toward school for their 1-year-old girl, whose father was killed in a car wreck this year.

Other pages are lighter, like a Bluffton girl who dreams of becoming a farrier. She's raised $620 in two months.

For many people, GoFundMe is not their first experience asking for help, but the platform can transform their results. By simply posting a few photos and a description of their need, people can raise thousands of dollars toward causes that may flounder at bake sales.

John Wollwerth, a Beaufort photographer, says his GoFundMe page received donations from clients he never would have asked. "People want to be able to get involved a lot of times," he said. "They just don't know how to do it."

Wollwerth is part of a group at Praise Assembly God in Beaufort working to launch a satellite church in Kibera, Kenya, the largest slum in Africa.

His page has raised $735 of $5,000, which would help the group afford flights and jumpstart a daycare program that would provide children with some education, along with meals of porridge and bananas.

"A lot of times they just go without entirely, so it's very simple food but with a little bit of nutrition," Wollwerth said.

"It would be nice to get it all raised, but we're continuing fundraising in a variety of avenues whether we get the full $5,000 here or not."

Paulette Moultrie's page fell short, as well, by about $22,750. The money the 36-year-old did raise helped offset the cost for one of Cille Moultrie's sons, who purchased the new home.

Paulette's online tribute to her grandmother, however, served a purpose of its own.

"We read it to her and she was in tears," Moultrie said. "In our family, our culture, we don't talk about a lot of things, so she never knew she was my hero and (that) I could write a story like that about her. She was very touched."

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