In the afternoon of January 17, 2010, the Powers family came home from church to a sight nobody would ever want to see: their house in flames. Because the head of the family, Shawn Powers, was the Associate Editor of the Linux Journal at that time, the team behind the publication put together a ChipIn crowdfunding campaign to raise funds so that the Powers family could replace the property lost in the fire.
According to a blog post made by Shawn Powers after the flames had been extinguished, the house was still standing after the fire, supposedly because there wasn’t enough oxigen to keep the flames burning. The fire did a lot of damage to the electrical installations and the interior of the house, but the most tragic was the loss of all the family’s animals, counting four dogs and one cat. From the pictures posted online by Shawn Powers, the house was completely destroyed on the interior, while almost in pristine condition on the exterior, but there were several concerns that due to the damage of the internal structure of the house, it would have to be demolished and rebuilt.
Perhaps the most amazing and inspiring thing about this disaster was the help offered to the Powers family immediately after the incident. According to Shawn’s blog post, he and his family were offered multiple places to stay until they resolved the situation, the Red Cross organization tracked them down and gave them money for food and clothing, and the family had received many messages of support. All this was in addition to his colleagues’ ChipIn crowdfunding campaign.
The crowdfunding campaign managed to get over 2500 dollars in less than three hours, therefore proving that the Linux and the Open Source community is filled with generous individuals. Even though the Powers family did have insurance and were able to get the money needed to replace the property lost, the insurance money was not received until later on. The money from the crowdfunding campaign was used by the Powers family to purchase winter clothing and needed supplies.
While a disaster at its core, the situation the Powers family went through managed to prove that people are more generous than expected in helping complete strangers, and was a true testament to the effectiveness of online crowdfunding campaigns, being more efficient than the insurance companies in helping people through tough times.