About a month ago, Heather Wiley, a new mom, was scrolling through a Facebook group for mothers when she came across a post that made her heart break. A woman needed basic items for her kids—formula, diapers, and the like—but didn’t have the money. In the comment thread below, people began tagging other Facebook groups, known as “blessings groups,” dedicated solely to handling cases of small but pressing monetary needs.
Wiley joined one of these groups, called “give me your money.” Once inside, she was met with a never-ending stream of people begging for help with small emergencies, medical expenses, and unfulfilled needs.
Wiley gave what she could: a few dollars here, a few dollars there. This week, after her company closed down, laying her off, she posted herself, asking for $80. “I have been looking for a little to cover the overdraft fee and gas since I won’t get paid until the end of the month for my new job, which I start on Monday,” she says. So far, she’s received $10. “I was embarrassed to post; it was embarrassing to me. I’ve always taken care of my children, but I just had this bump in the road,” Wiley says.
While larger sites such as GoFundMe have become popular for raising funds for large expenses such as medical bills, there is no one-stop platform to crowdfund just a few dollars. In the past, some have resorted to begging, or asking friends and family to help cover costs. But now thousands of people are turning to Facebook groups to plead for the help they need, from people who are essentially strangers online.