CINCINNATI – The Harris family has new hope.
After WCPO told the story of Cristal and Jason Harris and their two sons earlier this week, viewers and readers have asked how they could help the family.
Both Cristal and Jason Harris were laid off from 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 Thursday, the Harrises were evicted from their Kennedy Heights apartment. They owe $2,222 for two months back rent and late fees. Their landlord told them that if they can come up with that money – plus $595 to cover rent for August – by Aug. 6, they could stay, Cristal Harris said.
Two local men have stepped forward to help raise the money the family needs.
One is Carl McMullen, Jr., a Procter & Gamble Co. employee who has never met the Harris family. He saw their story on Channel 9 and was compelled to help.
McMullen has established a page for the Harris family on the gofundme fundraising website. He's trying to raise $2,800 for the family by Aug. 6.
"That could be anyone. That could be me, losing a job and falling on hard times," he said. "And it was $2,800. In the grand scheme of things, that's just a minimal amount."
The other person who has stepped forward to help is Ron Wells, an electronics assembler who used to work with Cristal Harris at a previous job.
Wells has started a fundraiser for the family through his hobby business, The Paracord Shop. He makes bracelets, key chains and lanyards from military-grade paracord. It's not a big business. But through Aug. 6, Wells said he would donate 65 percent of the money he raises through selling his products to the Harris family.
Wells said he would send the money directly to the family's rental office to help cover their rent.
"Everybody should be trying in some way to help everybody out. That's what Christ wants us to do, and that's what I feel as a believer and a member of my church," Wells said. "I know I'm not going to be able to find $2,800, but I can do what I can."
Cristal Harris said her family feels blessed that people in the community have stepped forward to try to help them. The gofundme site had more than $1,000 in pledges before noon Friday.
"Initially, I was literally brought to tears," she said. "I've seen generosity, but never like this. These people don't even know us, and it was just so awesome. They were tears of joy."
Time will tell whether the two efforts will raise enough money to help the Harris family stay in their Kennedy Heights home.
Insiders can read more about how widespread the needs are for struggling families in Greater Cincinnati.
For more information about the gofundme fundraising effort, go to http://www.gofundme.com/ceh0os.
For more information about The Paracord Shop's fundraiser, go to https://www.facebook.com/TheParacordShop.