Community's donations keep local family in their Kennedy Heights apartment

'I am honored at the generosity of people'

CINCINNATI – The community came through for a Cincinnati family in need.

Dozens of people who have never met the Harris family raised enough money to keep Cristal and Jason Harris and their two sons in their Kennedy Heights apartment.

After WCPO told the story of the Harris family July 30, viewers and readers wanted to help.

Both Cristal and Jason Harris lost their jobs in 2012 within a few months of each other. They have been struggling financially ever since – even though Jason Harris got a new job in January.

On July 31, the Harrises were evicted from their Kennedy Heights apartments. They owed $2,222 for two months back rent and late fees. Their landlord said if they could come up with that money – plus $595 to cover rent for August – by Aug. 6, they could stay.

In what Cristal Harris calls a "miracle," the family has received enough help to pay what they owed and rental payments for the next several months.

"There are no words," Cristal Harris said. "I am humbled. I am honored at the generosity of people. I feel awesome."

A page on the gofundme fundraising website started by Carl McMullen Jr. raised $4,880 for the family as of Thursday morning. McMullen set the goal at $2,800 when he launched the page on July 31 – the day the Harris family was evicted.

The page surpassed that goal over the weekend and just kept going. McMullen said he didn't know what to expect when he started the fundraiser or whether it would appeal to people.

"It is pretty cool," he said.

The gofundme site and its credit card processors charge fees totaling 7.9 percent plus 30 cents per donation, which would deduct about $412 from that total.

McMullen met with Tim Tope, the Harris family's landlord, to give him a check for the amount that had been raised through Wednesday morning. He said he will transfer any other donations that come in, too.

Tope said the money McMullen paid Wednesday covered the back rent, late fees and paid up the family's rent through Nov. 1.

Insiders can read about other donations the family received and the help the Harris family might get from the Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

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