Taylor Swift made sizable donations to help two mothers pay their rent and other bills following a Washington Post story on unemployed Americans facing eviction amid the pandemic.
The pop star, whose favorite number is 13, donated $13,000 each to GoFundMe campaigns to two mothers interviewed in the newspaper, Nikki Cornwell and Shelbie Selewski, who were scheduled for eviction hearings in January. Swift left comments for both donations, noting that she heard about their stories in the article.
"I'm so sorry for everything you've had to go through this year and wanted to send you this gift, from one Nashville girl to another," Swift wrote with her donation to Cornwell.
Cornwell, a single mother, told the Washington Post that she was $4,000 behind on rent and feared her landlord would evict her after the holiday season. She told NBC News in a text message that she wanted Swift to know she was "very grateful" for the donation. "She just doesn't know how excited it made my kids," Cornwell said. "We love Taylor Swift!"
Selewski told NBC News on Wednesday that she and her fiancé stopped working just as the pandemic began. Her daughter was born with a collapsed lung, a high risk factor for Covid-19.
“No one should have to feel the kind of stress that's been put on you,” Swift wrote with her donation to Selewski. “I hope you and your beautiful family have a great holiday season. Love, Taylor.”
Selewski said her job as a medical receptionist was no longer feasible after her daughter was discharged from the hospital.
“The fact that it was a doctor’s office, too” Selewski said of the possibility of exposure to coronavirus. “I feel like every job, you have to work with people, but everything puts her at risk.”
The mother of four qualified for an eviction diversion program in Michigan that helped pay her rent for a time, but she found little help when the gas and electricity were cut off. Selewski said she’d been trying to apply for remote working positions, but nothing had panned out.
Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak
She saw the Washington Post asking for tales of hardship, submitted her story and spoke to the Post’s Heather Long not long after.
“I never thought that there would be anything more than telling someone what it was like for families like ours that don’t have security,” Selewski said. “But then Heather said people were interested and whether there was a GoFundMe."
Selewski started the campaign and began to see alerts that people were donating to her fundraiser. One day, she was standing in the kitchen when a notification popped up saying someone named Taylor had donated $13,000.
“Taylor Swift, that in itself is so crazy,” Selewski said.
She has had trouble processing the fact that her GoFundMe has raised more than $20,000 in a little more than a day or the fact that a celebrity had contributed. Even before the pandemic, Selewski said her family lived paycheck to paycheck.
The money raised will help pay off the bills, but also go to necessities for the family, like clothing and winter coats, Selewski said.
“It was literally just going to bed every night and praying that something would happen and then it happened,” Selewski said. “It’s like something you read about happening to someone else and think they’re so lucky.”