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Oklahoma Tornado Widow Receives Donations To Build New House

Thu, June 13, 2013 9:40pm EDT by Sandra Clark 2 Comments

When Oklahoma tornado survivor Barbara Garcia emerged from the rubble that used to be her home, she had lost the one thing most important to her — her dog. Read on for all the EXCLUSIVE details about how she found her dog, and how she’s now able to build a new home for herself.

On May 20, Barbara Garcia lost everything when one of the worst tornados in history destroyed her home. Fortunately, Barbara’s dog Bowser was found, and with the help of concerned people around the world, in particular Erin DeRuggiero, over $60,000 has been raised to help her build a new home.

After watching Barbara being reunited with her dog Bowser during a live CBS News television interview immediately following the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, Erin of Minneapolis, Minn., set up a crowd-funding page at ‘GoFundMe’ to raise money for the widow who lost her home of thirty years.

In just 26 days, $60,895 has been raised on www.gofundme/ Donations came from as far as Australia and England, and even dog lover Rosie O’Donnell chipped in $1,000.

“I just knew I had to do something,” Erin, co-founder of  Social Reality tells EXCLUSIVELY:

I’m inspired. I was crying when I watched the initial video, it was equally tragic and joyous – when she found her dog Bowser underneath all of that rubble. I felt compelled to help her. Next to the birth of my son, this really is the best feeling ever. To know that I’ve helped someone, have made a difference in her life when it would have been nearly impossible to start over on her own – and have inspired other people to take action, even when no one is watching or thinks it can be done. Its been a profound reminder of just how powerful we all are.

“This is what life is about, really. Reaching out and helping each other, not expecting or hoping for anything in return,” says Erin. “Just being there for one another, being decent, kind human beings.”

“Anything raised over 60K will go towards replacing washer dryer, dishwasher, clothing, bed and bed frame – food, medicine, oxygen tanks [she has COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease],” says Erin.

How Does Barbara Garcia Feel?

Erin tells us, “Barbara feels truly blessed – and feels that a ‘thank you’ isn’t adequate. She’s now inspired to give back and help other people — now that she’s seen and felt how strangers can come together for each other. She felt that God spared her so she could help other people, and is excited to be able to give back.”

“At first – she didn’t understand how we were able to raise the money, where it came from,” says Erin. “She’s now pretty well versed in social media and has a new appreciation for its reach, influence and as a force for good in the world.”

Pet Food, Vet Services & Storm Shelter Donated

In addition to the goal Erin was reaching for, she contacted a storm shelter builder who agreed to build Barbara a custom storm shelter.

“Scott at Southern Illinois Storm Shelters is a true hero,” says Erin. “He has agreed to build Barbara and Bowser a custom 4×6 storm shelter [safe room] for free. Normally, these cost around $6500 and $8500.”

Mars Pet Care has donated a year of free food for Bowser, and a year of free veterinary visits. All because Erin took the extra step and reached out to anyone who would help.

What’s Next?

“I plan to go to Oklahoma in late July or August to meet Barbara and her family. Once she’s a bit more settled and up for a visit. Stay tuned! I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I’m there, will send pics and videos and will follow up through the build process,” Erin tells us.

“CBS is airing another followup on June 20, a month after the tornado struck. They will mention this fund as well and all we’ve done to help,” Erin says.

If You Want To Help

In addition to contributing to www.gofundme/, Erin is also making T-shirts! Where does this mother of a one-year-old find the time?

“I’m also selling shirts where 100% of the proceeds go towards the home build and items needed inside the home”, says Erin.

Click onto:

–Reporting by Sandra Clark

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