Viral photo leads to fundraising campaign for girls using Taco Bell Wi-Fi for homework

SALINAS, Calif. — Over $120,000 has been raised so far for a Salinas, California family after a photo of two girls using Taco Bell’s Wi-Fi to do their homework went viral last week.

View this post on Instagram

My mom sent me this picture today. These 2 young girls were looking for a place with WiFi to do their school work so they sat near Taco Bell to connect to the free WiFi. A lot of us don’t have to worry about having a proper WiFi connection or a quiet place to work from home. Every student from preschool through college should have free access to reliable WiFi especially now. What can we do as a community to pull together for students who need something as simple as WiFi in order to succeed? Please share and tag people in our community who can help. UPDATE: THE GIRLS WERE IDENTIFIED BY THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT AND GIVEN HOTSPOTS! I’M SURE THERE ARE OTHER CHILDREN IN NEED, I AM HOPING THEY ALL GET THE TOOLS THEY NEED! IF LOCAL BUSINESSES WOULD LIKE TO DONATE THEIR SPACE TO SET UP OUTDOOR INTERNET CAFES, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I WOULD LOVE TO HELP RALLY UP SUPPLIES AND MAN POWER! I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO REACH OUT TO YOUR OWN COMMUNITIES TO HELP STUDENTS IN YOUR AREA PLEASE CHECK OUT THE UPDATE ON THE FALSE POLICE ALLEGATIONS MADE BY A REPOSTER OF THIS PICTURE! DO HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU DONATE TO ANYONE. UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR. HOPING THAT THOSE HELPING HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS. 😞 Although I appreciate it, please don’t follow my page. It’s only public for now because of this picture but I will be erasing all new followers. #freewifi #salinas #equityineducation #socialinjustice #socialinequality #educationmatters #wififorall #educationforall #salinascalifornia #digitaldivide #cometogether #communitylove #ittakesavillage #saveourkids #dosomething

A post shared by ✌️ ❤️ 😃 (@ms_mamie89) on

A GoFundMe campaign was started Sunday when Jackie Lopez was able to locate the mother of the two girls, according to NBC News. After Lopez met the family, she learned that the family was going to be evicted from a rented room on Sept 1.

Upon meeting them and wanting to know what I can do to help she started to open up to me. I asked her if I could get her girls a desk for distant learning and she mentioned there was no space in their home for that. She then said she shared a small bedroom with her 3 girls in the home she was living in. The same room she was going to be evicted from 3 days later on the 1st of September. I asked her if she already had plans for moving and she said she had no where to go but that she had been eagerly searching to no avail. I then realized that those same little girls that not only needed internet, clothes and school supplies now needed a home too. So I reached out to my followers on Instagram for help and we have been able to provide them with clothes, shoes, school supplies, essentials and food.

—  GoFundMe Page created by Jackie Lopez

The GoFundMe fundraiser had surpassed the $20,000 goal by $100,000 by Tuesday morning.

In an update on the fundraising page, Lopez said she found an accountant to help the mother, who is a migrant worker, to manage her funds.

Today we spoke to Juana’s new accountant - a wonderful and reputable licensed professional that will help her manage her funds. Tomorrow after all of the contracts are signed and the money is available to be set up for withdrawal, I will provide you all with her accountant’s EIN for you to personally verify, and her contact information where you could request statements for transparency on how her funds are being used. Because of this huge new step and the hundreds of messages I’ve received to allow for more donations, I have decided to enable donations again. The girls deserve it all and my heart is just filled with so much joy for this family. I can’t thank you all enough for making so many of their dreams a reality.

—  GoFundMe Page created by Jackie Lopez

The Salinas City Elementary School District told NBC News that after the photo went viral they were able to get wireless hot spots for the family.

“The digital divide is very real, and delays in receiving needed technology are a statewide concern, we are grateful the state is making technology a priority and look forward to receiving these hotspots in our district,” Amy Ish, president of the district’s board of education told NBC News.

NBC News confirmed with GoFundMe that the funds for the campaign will be going to the family.

Read more here.