Internet appeals for money cover a wide range of topics

An appeal for Eliza O’Neill of Columbia has been the most successful in GoFundMe’s history.

A dog bitten by a rattlesnake, a family who lost everything in a house fire, a truck driver out of work after a motorcycle accident, a woman trying to pay for her grandmother’s funeral, a baby born with serious medical problems.

Those are just a few of the situations that prompted Charleston-area residents to ask for help through the Internet.

And people responded, donating hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

More than two dozen local residents have started accounts on the GoFundMe site in the past 30 days. That’s in addition to the scores of older accounts that are still active. You can easily find them by typing in a Charleston ZIP code in the search template on the home page.

Not all of the appeals are sad stories.

Eli &Jay’s Wedding Fund has raised more than $1,400 in the past two months to pay off bills for a gay couple who got married in April.

Kyle Johnson of Goose Creek met his goal of raising $2,000 to travel to Orlando to try out for the “American Ninja Warrior” television show. His appeal was bolstered by an impressive video showing his Spiderman-like capabilities.

A campaign called Backpacking, and Giving Back was started by a 22-year-old for “backpacking, giving back, and traveling the globe.” He’s raised $1,030 in two weeks.

A man wanting to build a tiny house on Johns Island raised $1,155 in three weeks through The Lowcountry Mini Mansion Project.

The National Billboard Campaign has raised more than $6,000 to put up signs warning people that vaccinations can cause autism (a claim that many scientists dispute but a platform of some conservative political campaigns).

There are campaigns for local contestants for the The Miss Hooters Iinternational Pageant and the Miss American Pageant.

The Julie’s New Voice campaign has raised nearly $6,000 in the past two months for a Summerville person who served in the military as a man, now identifies as female and wants an operation so her voice matches her new feminine features.

Several of the appeals are for victims of recent gun violence.

The Charleston Mother Emanuel AME Fund was started the day after the nine people were slain in the church and has raised more than $3,000. It’s been competing with the city of Charleston’s Hope Fund, which has raised more than $1.2 million, bolstered by several $100,000 corporation donations.

Two teachers at West Ashley High School had raised $2,200 in the first week for the family of DePayne Middleton Doctor, one of the victims, through The Doctor Family Support Fund.

Outside the Charleston area but connected to Charleston, the sister of the man accused of shooting the people in the church also started a fund. Amber Roof of Shelby, N.C., Dylann Roof’s sister, started A Fresh Start for Michael and Amber to raise money for her wedding, with a promise to donate 10 percent to the church. The wedding was planned for June 21 but was canceled in the wake of the publicity about her brother after the June 17 shooting at the church. The campaign raised more than $1,700 in its first four days — and then disappeared after a flood of negative comments. The page quit showing up in GoFundMe’s search template Thursday afternoon, and the link that worked earlier leads nowhere.

Back in the Charleston area, the Walter Lamar Scott page has raised more than $3,500 for the family of the black man shot in the back by a white North Charleston police officer in April.

The Lt. Will Rogers campaign has raised more than $2,700 to help with medical bills for the Berkeley County deputy shot outside a gas station in May.

With so many people appealing for money, how can you know who to support? Basically, stick with what you know, according to the site.

“With millions of campaigns, it’s not feasible for GoFundMe to investigate claims stated by each campaign organizer,” Stacy Silver, a company spokeswoman, said in an email. “Rather, they provide visitors with the tools to make an informed decision as to who they choose to support. They must insist that all potential donors follow the advice stated on each and every GoFundMe campaign, ‘only donate to people you personally know and trust.’ ”

GoFundMe was started five years ago in San Diego and has grown to millions of accounts. Every day, 10,000 new pages are added and $2 million is raised, according to the company.

The person who created the account gets an email each time a donation is made and can withdraw money at any time through a bank account transfer. GoFundMe keeps 5 percent of the money raised (that would be $100,000 a day off $2 million). WePay, the company that handles the financial transfers, keeps an additional 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents of each donation.

A South Carolina child is the focus of the site’s most successful campaign so far, a remarkable achievement considering that people all over the world have started appeals. Saving Eliza has raised $1.8 million over the last two years for Eliza O’Neill of Columbia.

When she was 4 years old, Eliza was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare metabolism disorder that’s eventually disabling and terminal. She has grown steadily worse, although her parents continue to hope for some improvement through gene therapy, according to the last update several weeks ago.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.