‘Stolen driveway’ homeowner donates GoFundMe earnings to charity

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County woman who came home from work to find her driveway missing a few days before Christmas has followed through on a promise she made after her story went viral.


Amanda Brochu surprised The Russell Home with a $10,000 donation raised through a GoFundMe campaign she set up to replace her driveway.

The donations, which came in from all over the world, were no longer needed after Orange City-based MM Concrete Specialty offered to replace Brochu’s driveway for free.

Despite being short on cash amid the process of trying to sell her house, Brochu was determined to pay it forward and make sure the money could be put to good use.

“I was put in a bad situation,” Brochu said, “But there’s a beautiful outcome to this story.”

Brochu was able to surprise the nonprofit with the help of 9 Family Connection and McCoy Federal Credit Union, which used the pre-planned Run for the Russell Home event and the guise of a promotional TV interview with the organization’s leadership as a cover story.

Most of the runners recognized the viral story and applauded when the ceremonial “big check” was revealed.

The money could not have come at a better time for The Russell Home, which was founded in the early 1950′s and is Florida’s oldest independent facility specializing in the care of newborns, children and adults with severe disabilities.

For the first time in years, the nonprofit is preparing to expand the number of permanent residents receiving round-the-clock care.

Read: Russell Home holds run in Orlando to raise awareness for cause

Three cribs were expected to arrive Monday, which will allow The Russell Home staff to care for newborns – either permanently or while their families adjust and prepare their own homes following a birth at the hospital or a traumatic incident.

“Instead of being in the hospital in a crib, we’re allowing them to come here,” The Russell Home’s Mike Beam said. “We want them to come here and live with us, and we can teach their families how to take care of them.”

For the nonprofit, which famously never pays for advertising or accepts government funding, the $10,000 check can go a long way. One of the founder’s granddaughters who manages the facility’s finances said that amount would pay for five months of electricity or needed medical equipment like hearing aids.

“She believed that if this is going to work, it’s because God and the community is going to support it, and it’s worked for 72 years,” Beam said, of founder Vantrease “Grandma” Russell. “I still get goosebumps hearing about [Brochu’s donation].”

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Brochu had an opportunity to tour the home following her surprise and called it beautiful.

“I didn’t think I was going to receive the attention, but I got it for a reason,” she said. “It’s going to a good cause.”

People interested in learning more about The Russell Home or becoming involved are encouraged to stop by, take a tour and meet the residents. Tours are offered as long as a person calls ahead to make arrangements.

You can also make a donation here.

Read: Why does someone ‘steal’ a driveway? Contractor explains how scam works

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