When her new bakery was vandalized in the riots that rocked Ferguson on Monday night, Natalie Dubose turned to a crowdfunding page to raise $20,000 and get her bakery back up and running.
Within one day, she netted more than $159,000 from roughly 5,000 backers.
Money came flowing in from people across the country, including Patricia Heaton of Everybody Loves Raymond, Brandi Glanville of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and a "sweet lady who offered money from her social security check," Dubose wrote on her GoFundMe page for Natalie's Cakes and More, adding: "I am so humbly blessed!
Dubose, who started selling cakes at local flea markets as she saved up to open her small business this summer, said her storefront's main windows were smashed and the shop damaged during the riots. Natalie's Cakes and More is in the 100 block of South Florissant Road, an area hard-hit by vandals. Protesters angered Monday by the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August looted buildings, vandalized stores and torched property.
Demonstrations continued in Ferguson and nationwide on Tuesday, with thousands marching on main streets and highways in Los Angeles, Cleveland, New York and elsewhere. More rallies were expected Wednesday, with Londoners joining the movement.
"I'm beside myself, but with the holidays, can't stop working," Dubose stated. "I'm very busy cleaning and trying to repair my business. I'm also trying to catchup on baking cakes for Thanksgiving!"
Dubose isn't the only one in Ferguson getting help from strangers online. The Ferguson Municipal Public Library has opened its doors as other parts of the community have boarded up. A bitcoin donation page was started to support the library's efforts.
Without the GoFundMe campaign, Dubose said she wouldn't know how she could find the money to repair her shop.
"I've never felt such love," she said.
Tags: CROWDFUNDING, FERGUSON, MISSOURI, PROTESTS IN FERGUSON, U.S., US & World