It was a terrible Mother's Day for the beloved Montclair Pre-K teacher and her family when a fire tore through their Belleville home, leaving LaMonica Carter and her four children without a place to live.
But on Memorial Day, local residents, volunteers and Patch came together to try to make it better.
Greg Spinelli, co-owner of Tapastry restaurant, likened it to a good old-fashioned barn raising.
And that's exactly what it was.
As of Sunday, June 3, about $15,000 had been raised thanks to Parents Who Rock, Montclair Patch, , musician Meg Beattie Patrick, and the entire Montclair community.
"Checks are still coming in," said Alma Schneider, founder of Parents Who Rock. "people can keep sending checks to me made out to LaMonica Carter.
"In addition, a registry for her home is in the works," she added. Carter "is incredibly appreciative and moved by everyone's generosity."
Carter is still looking for an apartment, but Schneider said she's hopeful a home will be secured soon.
Meanwhile, Montclair residents, both young and old, continue to find innovative ways to help the family.
As part of a 4th grade math project with Montclair State University, some Montclair students recently were asked to set up a lemonade "business." They had to set goals and detail their expenses and marketing plans.
Initially, the girls, like all 4th grade girls, planned to give the money to the animal shelter.
But then they saw the article on Carter on Montclair Patch and decided to donate the funds to her. They raised $33 after expenses.
In addition, a huge crowd that included Mayor Jerry Fried, Mayor-Elect Robert Jackson, and Councilor At Large-Elect and Former Mayor Bob Russo gathered on Church Street from noon to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day to listen to music, buy baked goods, and simply do whatever they could to generate funds so that the Carters might afford a new place to live.
AOL, Patch's parent company, presented Carter with a check for $3,000. In addition, an anonymous donor in contact with AOL pledged to match every dollar raised 1-1 up to $5,000.
Carter, overcome with emotion, said she was floored by all the attention.
"I'm overwhelmed but really I'm not surprised completely because I know what kind of community Montclair is," she said. "The kindness of everyone here has been truly incredible. I will never forget what people have done."
Fried also emphasized the generosity of the Montclair community.
"This is really what this community is all about," he said, noting that the town's annual Concerts for Haiti have raised enormous sums of money for that country.
Carter, who has worked at the Pre-K for the past 11 years, lost her Belleville home and everything inside it in a fire on Mother's Day.
She and her four children, ages 7 to 14, had no renters insurance and haven't been able to afford the security deposit on another apartment or home.
"A lot of families have provided us with food and clothing, which is great, but we need somewhere to live," Carter said.
Schneider said donations are still welcome any time over the next week. Checks should be made payable to LaMonica Carter and can be mailed to: Parents Who Rock, LLC, 72 High St., Montclair, N.J. 07042. If you can't send a check now, you can still pledge a donation by emailing Schneider at email@example.com.