As unexpected payments began to arrive in Safe Harbor Stripe and PayPal accounts, Gina Karst became curious.
The executive director of the Aberdeen domestic violence shelter Karst noticed the payments earlier this month.
She set up the accounts in late October to host a live fundraiser hosted by Eugene Larsen of Omaha, Neb.
Larsen, a content creator, organized the fundraiser in honor of her cousin, Jessica Goebel of Aberdeen, who was repeatedly stabbed by her boyfriend, John E. Hemminger, in January 2015.
Goebel is finally dead. She is survived by three children, aged 7, 3 and three months at the time of her murder. Hemminger was subsequently convicted and is serving a life sentence.
“Safe Harbor has helped my family through a difficult time,” said Larsen.
He decided to do the fundraising to thank Safe Harbor. He said most of his family still live in Langford.
Content creators are people who create entertaining or educational material on almost any medium or platform. This content can be as simple as playing video games while people are watching online. And, yes, these efforts get people to donate.
Larsen broadcast for 12 hours on his Twitch LarzAndSwiper account, which has around 500 subscribers. He played different video games and was joined by a few of his friends during the broadcast. His audience provided combined donations of approximately $ 1,500 to Safe Harbor.
To accommodate these contributions, Larsen asked Karst to create a Safe Harbor account on an app called Tiltify. It’s a crowdfunding site that allows online feeds to become charitable fundraisers. She did, and the shelter was happy to help.
And that was it, as far as everyone knows.
But it was not.
About a month later, Tim Hickson was scouring Tiltify for a charity to support on a live stream on his YouTube account.
Hickson is a content creator in Christchurch, New Zealand. He works in a suicide and self-harm hotline during the day. He has nearly 900,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel called Hello Future Me. His videos cover everything from writing to film commentary. He has also done several charity livestreams, where he plays video games for 24 straight hours.
Hickson said he is looking for a smaller local charity to raise money. Many small charities or agencies are not on Tiltify, he said, so he was surprised when he found out about Safe Harbor.
“Generally speaking… they know exactly what they want to do in a small community, that the money tends to go a little bit deeper in a weird way,” Hickson said. “So they were the logical option to choose.”
Hickson asked his audience what the money would be used for, and they opted for sanity.
“Domestic violence and mental health are deeply intertwined, especially in the timeline of the COVID lockdown isolation we live in,” he said.
Hickson said that while suicide rates declined during the pandemic, working in a suicide and self-harm hotline made him realize that self-harm and suicidal thoughts were on the rise. Many people are now stuck with their abusers, Hickson said, which is why he sought domestic violence shelter.
“The Safe Harbor providing, basically, an option for things to get better is really important,” he said.
Safe Harbor was also one of the only shelters Hickson encountered that accommodates people of all genders.
And donations started pouring in before his livestream even started. The Hickson audience donated approximately $ 4,000 to Safe Harbor in three days, when Karst began receiving payments to Safe Harbor’s PayPal and Stripe accounts. Not knowing where the money was coming from, Karst contacted Larsen, who used Tiltify to see where the money was deposited.
“It blew me away,” Larsen said.
Hickson, for his part, had no idea what Larsen’s fundraiser was a month before and said the whole situation was a coincidence. His audience ended up donating nearly $ 30,000 to Safe Harbor.
Larsen chose to stream in October because it’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and he plans to fundraise for Safe Harbor each year in October.
Karst said she was grateful for the gaming community and all donations received by Safe Harbor.
“I never would have thought what donor community this is. I thank them for wanting to be able to help us. I think it’s amazing, ”she said.
This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: Safe Harbor Streaming Fundraisers