Less than a week after the mass Chicago shooting that wounded 13 people, a Florida-based charity has launched a support campaign to help the victims recover from the terrifying attack.
"Unfortunately as we all know, people in the inner city don't get the kind of attention other victims get in the mass media," Kendall Almerico told HuffPost in a phone interview. The attorney and crowdfunding expert founded the charitable site Crowd It Forward, which launched the benefit campaign Saturday.
Three-year-old Deonta' Howard was the littlest victim from the Aug. 19 attack. The boy suffered a gunshot wound to the face, which a witness later recalled looked as if the attackers "almost shot his whole face off.”
Doctors told the Tribune they're waiting for the toddler's jawbone to heal before doing the required plastic surgery on his face. The 12 other victims suffered myriad injuries, including gunshot wounds to the limbs and stomach.
"I don't know that there'd ever be a fund to help these victims, especially for the ones who would have trouble getting funds from any kind of charity," Almerico said.
Through the campaign, Almerico said the goal is to raise funds to help with the medical expenses of these shooting victims.
"Each one of these victims is going to need a considerable amount," he noted.
According to the project page, the fund will go directly to the health care providers after all other insurance or other forms of payment have been exhausted. If the contributions surpass the goal amount, the money will be distributed to victims after a review from Crowd It Forward's board and "upon verified proof of other financial losses not covered by other means, such as lost wages."
It costs roughly $52,000 to treat a gunshot victim at Stroger Hospital, Cook County's flagship facility. The victim's fund for the Chicago shooting has a modest $2,500 goal which Almerico says is starting intentionally low.
"It's more of a psychological thing," Almerico explained. "If you put a big target number up -- I'd love to raise a million dollars -- [donors] won't contribute because they think the goal will never be made. If people see a number they think is unattainable, they still have have this Kickstarter mentality where there's a specific end game and the don't want their contribution to go to waste."
Crowd It Forward started with the goal of rewarding extraordinary do-gooders through "random acts of crowd funding."
The charity's first-ever project -- for Lance Cpl. Myles Kerr, the Marine who put aside his goal of beating his colleagues to help a 9-year-old runner who lost his group make it to the finish line -- had a modest $1,000 goal that was reached within the first day in July. "The goal is always going to keep going up if we're going to keep raising money."
Even if the sliding goal isn't met, Almerico said the money raised will be distributed to the victims.
"This isn't Kickstarter where it's all or nothing," Almerico said, noting the individual needs of each victim will determine the share received. "I don't want to just hand out checks to people. The first thing we want to ensure the money is going to real needs. If someone has the greatest disability benefit in the world and didn't spend a cent, they, for example, probably won't get much."
As support for the project gains momentum, Almerico said Crowd It Forward will confirm the names and information of the Chicago victims. "It's about taking care of the people who need to be taken care of."
The Fund For Victims Of The Chicago Shooting project runs until Dec. 31. Crowd It Forward is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.