Stranger Raises More than $10,000 So Children Can Pay for Mother’s Funeral

| by Lina Batarags

Three San Diego children who lost their mother to cancer found an unexpected source of solace in a kind savior who helped them raise funds for the funeral they otherwise would have been unable to afford.

Renee Finney, 42, passed away in her Moreno Valley home on May 7.

After her passing, they found themselves $10,000 short of being able to pay for her funeral; and so, on Mother’s Day weekend, they decided to hold a bake sale and car wash to try and raise the funds they would need.

Although they managed to raise $2,000, they were still $8,000 short of being able to pay for the funeral.

The three children, ages 16, 18, and 25, wrote letters to their mother, tied them to balloons, and let the balloons fly away.

“Hi mom. I miss you and I hope you come and visit me soon because I have questions to ask like why you had to leave so soon,” read the beginning of one of these messages.

While the gesture had great emotional significance to the children, it also ended up making a huge impact on their money-raising endeavor: the next day, one of the balloons ended up 30 miles away on the doorstep of a complete stranger named Yvette Melton.

Melton researched the names mentioned in the letters, and came across Finney’s obituary online. A call to the funeral home confirmed that the family needed money to bury their mother.

Melton passed news of the discovery on to her boss, Jerry Halamuda of Color Spot Nursuries.

“The one part of the letter that really grabbed us was, ‘we know you are up in heaven but we don’t have any money to bury you’ and so our thing was…let’s make this happen,” Halamuda said.

Not only did Halamuda’s company make it “happen”, they made it happen quickly: within hours, his employees had raised $2,000.

By Sunday, May 21, that sum had risen to $12,648 – which more than covers the funeral costs the children had been struggling to raise.

Thanks to their efforts, Renee’s funeral will be held on May 23.

“I told her, ‘I want you to be at the funeral. I want you to see what you made possible. I want you to be a friend of mine forever,” Karries, Finney’s 25 year-old daughter, said of the eternal gratitude she feels toward Melton.

Melton has said that she is honored to attend the funeral, and looks forward to meeting the family.

“I want to say thank you, I appreciate you, you are a godsend,” Karries said.

“My mom had no life insurance and you want to bury your mother the right way, you want to glorify your mother…it means everything to my family,” Karries added.


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