A GoFundMe has raised almost $100,000 for a woman caught between the competing demands of pandemic parenthood.
Shaina Bell, 24, was arrested while she was working at a Little Caesars pizzeria in Liberty Township, Ohio on Thursday evening. Police say they had found two of her daughters, aged 2 and 10, alone at a nearby Motel Six.
Bell told the police she was having someone check on the kids every hour, and would be back by 10pm, but that was not enough. She was charged with two counts of child endangerment— to which she pleaded not guilty— and spent the night in jail.
That’s when the internet stepped in. After local news outlets covered Bell’s story, it gained widespread sympathy online, including from a US congressman.
“Women are damned if they do or damned if they don’t,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D — Arizona) wrote on Twitter. “Stay at home with your kids and receive government assistance and you are a leech, go to work for poverty wages and can’t get consistent sitters and go to jail.”
Soon a GoFundMe was raising money for Bell and her children. Its goal was $5,000, but by Wednesday evening it had raised over $98,000.
“Shaina is a single mother of three young children. She works hard and she loves her family very much,” Danielle Hosey, who says she is Bell’s mother, wrote in the GoFundMe’s synopsis. “This campaign was created to help Shaina and her children raise the money they need in order to secure permanent and safe housing.”
Words of support poured in along with donations. Contributors were especially sympathetic in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down many schools and daycare providers, leaving few options for single parents whose jobs cannot be done remotely.
“I am literally in tears,” one donor wrote in the comments. “And I completely understand that Shaina was doing her best. She’s not a bad mom, she’s just having a hard time with 2 young kids in the midst of a global pandemic. Drop all charges now.”
“From one single working mama to another,” another wrote, “I hope the outpouring of support from strangers helps you keep moving forward.”
Since Thursday, Bell has been released from jail after making bail, and her children have been put in their father’s custody. She has a court hearing scheduled for April.
But one contributor to the GoFundMe wondered how things might have turned out if Bell’s case hadn’t caught the internet’s attention.
“What a disgrace to treat this poor lady like this,” the donor wrote. “Without this media attention she probably would have lost her job, her housing and eventually her kids. How many other Shainas are out there?”