A man from New Jersey was at risk of losing his home and had no one in his corner to help him until his neighbors found out and came together to raise $50,000 save his house. Lamar Harris has special needs and “his life has been full of tragedy,” his neighbor, Terri Fretz, wrote on GoFundMe.
Fretz said Harris lost both his mom and grandmother as a child and lived with his father and brother until they both suddenly died when he was an adult.
Harris is alone, according to Fretz. In order to survive, he has a part-time job of cutting lawns for some of his neighbors.
“He cannot drive. He does not understand finances and has a very limited reading ability,” Fretz writes. “As a result of the death of his family members, his reading deficits and his inability to understand finances, he has fallen behind in his property taxes.”
Harris hasn’t paid property taxes since his father’s death in 2015 and Gloucester Township filed a lien for back taxes. “Lamar is in imminent danger of losing his home,” Fretz’s post reads.
With his family members gone, Harris seemingly had no one to help him. Luckily, he has a loving community and church who decided to rally behind him and raise the funds needed to stop the foreclosure of his home, Fretz said.
Fretz created a GoFundMe on July 23, with a deadline to raise the money by Aug. 5.
“We, his neighbors, have all banded together and have been watching out for Lamar since his dad died. This problem just recently came to light and is too big for just his neighbors to handle,” Fretz writes.
Their goal was to get outside help raising $50,000. Before reaching that goal, the Mayor of Gloucester Township released an update on Harris.
“The township has been in contact with state and county offices,” Mayor David Mayer said in a statement. “We are compiling information as to the status of not only the property, but most importantly, the status and care of Mr. Lamar Harris. The current foreclosure process is the result of a private lien holder that dates back to 2015. We will continue to research this matter to ensure the proper care of Mr. Harris.”
While the town was working to help Mr. Harris keep his property, about 1,007 people were donating to the GoFundMe. In just 13 days, they raised $64,804. Some donors gave up to $300.
As if the influx of donations wasn’t heartwarming enough, community members who knew Harris left touching messages on the GoFundMe page.
One woman said she and her children held a lemonade stand to raise money for Harris. “We are Lamar’s neighbors and care about him very much,” she wrote. “He helps everyone in our community willingly from his heart. He is our community watch ..everyone knows him and loves him .. he deserves to stay in his home.”
“I Love you man…if you need anything call me,” one man wrote to Harris.
Fretz updated the GoFundMe page to thank everyone who pitched in. “You are all proof that kindness can make a difference in a person’s life in a big way,” she wrote. She said Harris is very grateful and understands the kindness.
“All donations that he continues to receive will be applied to Lamar’s future and current needs,” Frtez said. The community is also working on finding an attorney to advocate for Harris in the future.
“There is still good in the world. There is still hope for us all,” she wrote.
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