Students raise thousands of dollars for Florence victims, cannot distribute funds

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — What started out as a small Hurricane Florence relief effort, turned into much more. Area college students organized donation sites around the state and even a Go Fund Me account.

“When we were collecting money, it was more like ‘Oh we’ll collect $500 and donate it to a charity.’ And then we became the charity that people were donating to. And we were just kind of like ‘Whoa. We don’t know what to do with $1600, $1800. We don’t know what to do with all this stuff,’” said Camryn Urbach, who is the Project Administrator.

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The students turned “We Wilm Rebuild” it into an outpouring of support from around the region. They have raised almost $20,000 and truckloads of donations, but people are asking where it all is know.

“I want people to know that we’re still working hard. We’re still students, so it’s hard to balance everything,” said Wes Porter, the We Wilm Rebuild Co-Founder.

Porter says they got a sponsor to help pay to transport donations from almost 40 donation sites around the state, and to set up a distribution site here in Wilmington. But students will not say where it is.

They also say their Go Fund Me account is frozen because they did not open a withdrawal account within 30 days of setting up the page.

“We weren’t aware that they were going to do that. So we decided when we were ready to take everything out of the Go Fund Me and they basically said ‘Your funds are frozen,’” said Urbach.

We reached out to Go Fund Me to ask about the status of the account, but they did not respond. Urbach says the group’s sponsor, Technology for the Future, is working to help unfreeze those funds.

But there is no certainty about when or where the donations will go. Urbach says they hope to put that money toward buying more items for victims, and donating to a local charity.