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SoCal TikTok influencer and followers help get homeless family off the streets

The global online shift has created social media stars out of thousands of ordinary people, who have gained followers for anything and everything in all aspects of daily life.

It has become a lucrative source of income for many but is also an opportunity to do good. In this instance, a SoCal TikTok influencer used her platform to assist a family in desperate need of help.

With 3.5 million followers, Jackie Gansky is a SoCal TikTok influencer who focuses on lifestyle, health, and fun activities, mostly in beauty and fashion.

Her videos on TikTok generally garner hundreds of thousands of views, but her interactions with a homeless family in California, and her efforts to help them, generated millions of views, and the necessary push to help a homeless family get off the streets.

Jackie met Hugh and his three young sons while visiting a park in West Hollywood. She observed that the family, especially the kids, were struggling in the searing heat of summer.

She knew she had to step in because temperatures continued to trend upwards. The family had been homeless for seven months and were living in the van.

She recalled, “I said why don’t I get you a motel for a few nights and maybe we can make a fundraiser page and get the community to come together.” Jackie and her friend Anna Noel Olson immediately set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the family.

Hugh shared what he and three young sons endured in the past few months. “It was excruciating. The babies, they were stressed. … We were suffering a lot,” he said.

At night, he would stay awake to watch over the children, who would wake up with bloody noses because of the 90–110 degree heat.

The kindness of the SoCal TikTok influencer changed all that. “Today it feels like a miracle,” Hugh said. “It’s like a miracle because last week we were suffering.”

Hugh, 61, is a single father and is originally from Belize. He has no money or social security and spends the day begging on the streets.

His three young sons, ages 3, 5, and 6, have never been to school and just play outside the van in the heat.

Yet, they are full of life, and are eager to do fun things that many kids take for granted, like bowling.  Hugh is eager to do any kind of work so he can keep his children healthy and safe.

The SoCal TikTok influencer stated that the money raised would be used to give Hugh and his family their most basic and urgent needs, including finding a home or an apartment, food and clothing, toiletries, insurance and gas for the van, and medical attention and resources for the whole family.

The plan is to find the family a permanent home, but in the meantime some of donations have been used to keep them in a hotel, which costs about $1,170 per week.

Since this option is quite expensive, the SoCal TikTok influences has also been looking for a shelter or shared housing.

Unfortunately, the shelters in Los Angeles are already at capacity. Hugh is also at a disadvantage, since the shelters do not usually accept men with children when there is no female figure.

The SoCal TikTok influencer’s efforts have since generated around 3,500 donations amounting to $87,000 of their $150,000 target.

Olson said, “Most of the donations have been just $5 to $10. So your daily Starbucks. Or just taking a little bit of money to give to a good cause. We also ask anyone who is a little more blessed or fortunate to donate what they can. But every little penny matters.”

Initially, Jackie and Anna had hoped to help get Hugh a job, as well as an apartment for him and his three sons.

The SoCal TikTok influencer said, “The goal is to set them up long term so then they don’t have to be out on the streets looking for money.” However, the plan has since been updated since they found out more about Hugh’s family.

It turns out that Hugh has a daughter. Hugh, his wife, and their daughter were homeless for a long time and lived mostly in shelters. At 16, she went into foster care for a chance at a better life. She aged out of foster care when she reached 21, and then found a job and an apartment.

Hugh and his three young sons, as well as her mother, were all living with her. When COVID-19 hit, she fell into debt from supporting them all.

And when her mother fell ill, she lost her job, since it was impossible to work from home with so many people in the household. She lost her apartment and is now in debt for $25,000.

There is a silver lining though for the whole family. Hugh’s daughter has a new job, though she desperately needs a car to get to work since it takes multiple bus and train trips to get there. She is also eagerly looking for a more affordable home.

The SoCal TikTok influencer thus plans to use the donations to look for housing for Hugh, his three young boys, as well as his daughter. This life changing support is already creating an impact since Hugh and his family are now living in an Airbnb.

Hugh is understandably grateful. He said, “We know it’s going to be alright eventually because if you do good it comes back to you. I tell my kids to think good and try to do good. And stay happy, stay joyful.”

Jackie has documented the process of working with the family on both Instagram and TikTok and has thanked followers repeatedly for all their help. Hopefully more people can contribute to such a good cause and help others who just need a gentle push to move their lives forward. 

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