Mountain View website helps coordinate, fund Superstorm Sandy relief efforts

Craig Ruttle/APAftermath: A chunk of boardwalk lies in ruins hundreds of feet from the beach in the borough of Queens

As Kimberly Bellinger watched the devastation of Superstorm Sandy strike her fellow New Yorkers, she knew she had to do something.

As a resident of the Upper East Side in Manhattan, Bellinger, 31, never lost power. But she watched the devastation unfold across several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Using another social media avenue, Mountain View-based Fundly, Bellinger has asked for up to $2,500 to fund a pop-up kitchen for relief efforts. Thanks to 28 donors, she’s more than halfway to her goal. Bellinger also posts receipts to the website to show donors what their money has paid for.

And starting today, she and dozens of others are staffing a van powered by generators and heading to the Far Rockaway neighborhood in Queens on the southern coast of Long Island — one of the hardest-hit areas — to serve hot meals to the thousands of people still without power.

“I’m trying to bring them some soul nourishment,” Bellinger said. “I think warm food will help that.”

The artist was not able to fund the project herself. Because she used social media to get her news and updates during the storm, Bellinger knew crowdsourcing — a way for people or groups to organize and complete tasks — would help her efforts.

Fundly CEO Dave Boyce said Bellinger’s work is at the root of his company’s goals.

“It’s about people taking things into their own hands,” Boyce said. “Sandy has demonstrated that we’re not going to wait for a large organization to get us organized. We’re just going to raise the money ourselves.”

Founded in 2009, Fundly has helped 28,000 different organizations, people and companies raise money for thousands of charitable causes. Habitat for Humanity has used the site for numerous outreach efforts. Dozens of private citizens organized tornado relief efforts in the Midwest in March.

But Sandy’s destruction, by far, has drawn the most attention.

“We had our biggest growth on Friday,” Boyce said. “An additional 800 causes were created that day for Sandy.”

For June Carroll, the website was a godsend. The York, Pa., resident set up a page within hours of the storm making landfall to help her brother-in-law and his family in Long Beach, N.Y.

“Feeling helpless is one of the worst feelings to have in a time of need,” Carroll said. By setting up this fund, it’s “something that made me feel useful and that I could do something.”

Her page has already surpassed the $15,000 requested. Carroll said any excess funds will be given to other families in need.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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