Viral GoFundMe raises nearly $60k for former Bemidji foster parents

·4 min read

Jun. 29—BEMIDJI — A trip to Walmart usually isn't a life-changing experience, but for Bemidji's Bonnie Keywitsch it turned out to be just that.

While in the store on Tuesday, June 28, Keywitsch was approached by a young man holding a phone and a piggy bank, and in exchange for $5 she was told she could keep whatever was inside.

Just a few minutes later, she broke open the piggy bank to find $500, and that was just the start of the good things coming her way.

The man who approached Keywitsch in Walmart was a

YouTuber

and

TikToker who goes by Jimmy Darts.

Originally from Walker, Minn., he has amassed millions of followers based on content where he performs random acts of kindness.

It was one of these acts of kindness that led to Darts meeting Keywitsch. After breaking open the piggy bank to find its contents, Keywitsch was overwhelmed and described how desperately she and her husband, Darwin, had needed the money.

"She starts telling me that her and her husband are completely broke and their food stamps just ended. They hardly have anything," Darts said in a

YouTube video he later posted recounting the event.

"This really changed their week and their day."

Keywitsch also shared that she and her husband had been foster parents for 11 years and that one of their former foster sons, Bruce Pelzman, had been trying to help them by

setting up a GoFundMe for the couple.

Hearing this further inspired Darts, who proceeded to reach out to his followers to see if they could help the fundraiser reach its goal.

"This couple was only trying to raise $1,000 for everything. They have no money, no anything, and they're only trying to raise $1,000," Darts said in the video. "And I said, let's storm it, let's blow it up."

Darts' followers came through, and in less than a day the fundraiser went from $20 to over $50,000. The next step was to surprise the couple with the good news.

"I'm outside of their house, we're going to surprise them right now," Darts said as he and his approached the Keywitsch home on Wednesday, June 29, while live streaming to break the good news.

After being invited in and asking the couple to sit down, Darts told them just how much he and his followers had raised.

"Are you ready to know how much my followers donated to you guys?" Darts asked, drawing out the moment. "The total that came in, you now have over $50,000."

Keywitsch and her husband were shocked and immediately express their gratitude and disbelief. Darts shared that donations had come from across the world, from Scotland to Australia, all because of a chance meeting in a Walmart aisle.

"You never know what will happen when you go to Walmart," Darts joked. "Now you don't have to worry about bills, your next payment. You'll have funds for that."

Along with their donations, many of Darts' followers left comments for the couple, thanking them for their work as foster parents. Some of these were based on personal experiences, and others came after reading the account that Pelzman had included in the GoFundMe description.

"(Darwin and Bonnie) welcomed me, and for the first time in my life I felt like I belonged in the house I lived in," Pelzman shared of his experience in foster care. "They showed me what it was like to be loved and cared for."

Pelzman told his story, of how he moved into the Keywitsch home when he was 13 after a bad first placement in the foster system. He shared how, despite not having much, Darwin and Bonnie had taken him in like they had so many others and changed his life for the better.

"They didn't have an overabundance of money to share around. They had one other room in their house for a young man that nobody wanted," Pelzman wrote. "They raised kids that were not their own and changed the lives of many."

Recently, however, Keywitsch and her husband had been struggling to pay their bills, and neither could take on an extra job because both live with disabilities. For a long time, they depended on food stamps and social security, but they found these were no longer enough as prices rose from inflation.

After Keywitsch created a Facebook post outlining their recent financial difficulties, Pelzman stepped in to create a GoFundMe to help his former foster parents in early June but hadn't received many donations.

Once Darts met Keywitsch and got his followers involved, that same GoFundMe has raised over $57,000, as of Wednesday afternoon.

"To see strangers help is fantastic," Keywitsch said in the video after she found out how much was raised. "Thank you so much for helping us, it's unbelievable."

Darts closed his video by joining the couple in a prayer, asking for further blessings to come to them and thanking them for working with children like Pelzman.

"We're just so happy we got to meet you," Darts said. "You guys are so incredible."

The full video can be viewed by clicking the link below: