People the world over are helping one College Point family racked by tragedy.
The Malave family was driving home from a spring break vacation in Florida on Saturday, March 30 when they were reportedly hit by a driver heading down the wrong side of the road. Christian Malave, 11, was killed in the crash, and his parents Carlos and Hilda, and older sisters Melissa and Aly, were severely injured.
Days later, longtime family friend Daniel Rinaldi got the idea to raise money for the Malaves, potentially to help pay for their medical bills and funeral expenses. On Monday, April 1, Rinaldi set up a website with a fundraising goal of $1,000. A little more than a week after the crash, with the Malaves still in a Florida hospital, donations at home reached over $40,000.
“We’re still climbing,” said Rinaldi. “There’s no indication of slowing down or capping it.”
At the beginning, Rinaldi, 25, received donations from his immediate Queens community. Eventually, that spread to the entire state and now several donations have come in from overseas.
“I look at that picture of the family, and it’s been my motivation. I think it has been a lot of other people’s motivation in wanting to give back, too,” said Rinaldi. “They say, ‘You know what, this could have been me, my family; this could have been my little kid.’”
More than 600 people have contributed to the Malave fund. Rinaldi hopes that the money will further provide for the family and give them time to recover, whether they need to pay for a physical therapist or simply put food on the table.
In the span of just one day, the fund collected over $2,000.
“Money should be the very last thing this family must worry about at this time,” said Allison O’Hagan on the fundraising site. “DONATE DONATE DONATE!”
Promotions for the Malave fund have been done primarily via social media – the site has been shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook, and 500 times on Twitter. Rinaldi said he sent out a few emails requesting help, but that the entire project has been done without any banks or big corporations.
“It’s just regular people willing to give up the money they may have spent on their lunch,” he said.
The family, well-known in their neighborhood, is said to be one of the most wonderful families you could ever meet, and the youngest Malave was a pleasure to be around.
“Christian was a beautiful little boy. He had a smile that just lit up a room,” said Tracy Salerno on the Malave fund website. “Always polite, always respectful. Be very proud of the little man that you raised.”
The community has no plans of stopping their efforts anytime soon. The College Point Five Guys on 14th Avenue donated 10 percent of every purchase from Thursday, April 11 to the Malave fund.
“If we can take some stress away, and show them there are good people out there, we can make a difference,” said Rinaldi. “It’s about trying to help a family that didn’t deserve this to happen to them.”
If you would like to contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/2gy7cc.