You may have recently come across the story of Shaina Bell, the 24-year old mother of three who was arrested in Liberty Township, Ohio, and charged with two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment after she left two of her children alone in a motel room while she worked her job at Little Caesars.
This was one of those stories where it behooves compassionate people to steer clear of social media comment sections regarding Bell’s situation unless they want to bear witness to the dumpster fire of misogynoir and poverty-shaming that happened on a lot of threads. Fortunately, this story has a happier ending than many like it as people who are naturally empathetic to the struggles of a fellow human being were able and willing to say “I’m here for you” with their wallets.
NBC 10 reports that a GoFundMe page set up by Bell to help her find permanent housing and other financial support—with a goal of raising only $5,000—has raised more than $150,000 in funds.
Her top donations include Music label co-founder, Pierre “Pee” Thomas donating $10,000 and a Cleveland Cavalier, Javale Mcgee, donating $5,000 dollars.
Thomas wrote on Instagram, “My mom used to have to do the same thing when we were young, not cause of abandonment issues, it’s because people can’t afford child care working at a pizza shop. She wasn’t hanging out at a club. She was at work.”
Bell’s story also hit the political sphere. An Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego tweeted, “Women are dammed if they do or damned if they don’t. Stay at home with your kids and receive government assistance and you are a leach, go to work for poverty wages and can’t get consistent sitters and go to jail.”
In an interview with WKBN 27, Bell—whose children are age nine, seven and three—said simply that she “had to go to work.”
“My daughter decided that she wanted to stay here,” she said. “My daughter told me that this is where she wants to be, and I felt that she was old enough to be able to stay here with her sister for a few hours because my job is right down the street.”
At the time of her arrest, Bell told police officers that she usually has someone check on her children whenever she needs to leave them while she works.
Listen: People are going to think what they will about a young mother leaving her children home alone, but no one does this for shits and giggles. Any questions about whether or not this woman is a capable mother who loves her children are questions that miss the mark by miles in addressing what’s really going on here: Poverty makes you choose between being with your children at all times and working to keep them fed cared for.
“My kids bring me joy. They make me laugh. They’re my world,” Bell told WKBN. “I would never do anything to harm my kids. My kids are everything to me. That’s all I do is go to work and take care of my kids. That’s all I do.”
Of course, the holier than thou will beat their chests and exclaim that “no one is to blame for her situation but her”—which in and of itself is assuming a lot as none of us knows this woman’s life—but she doesn’t seek to blame anyone so the point is moot.
“I never set blame on anybody for anything because, at the end of the day, nobody left my kids in the hotel but me,” she said. “I’ve cried a couple of times since this situation started. I’m just trying to keep a level head and trying to stay strong because that’s all I can do.”
Bell appears to be taking the attention her story has gotten her in stride and allowing the outpouring of support to outshine the comments of projecting-ass haters who live to condemn strangers.
“A lot of people are saying hurtful things, but a lot of people are also being there for me and showing great support,” she said. “I have over $100,000 in a GoFundMe account right now. I didn’t ask for that, but people gave it to me, and I’m just over appreciative to what’s going on.”
And there you have it—compassion wins.