(WJLA) - Looking at what's left of his Waldorf home, Carl Remalia is grateful for all eight people inside who escaped a fast-moving early morning fire. They escaped with their lives and the clothes on their back.
Remalia's sister-in law started an online fundraising campaign to help, and in the three weeks since the fire, it has raised $9,000.
Last August, one emotional single father's plight to hold his family together after a fire left them homeless, sparked a huge outpouring of generosity after rapper Nas saw an ABC 7 News story and used social media to drum up nearly $65,000 in donations - enough to keep the D.C. father and his eight children off the streets.
In fact, crowdsourcing, as it's called, has been used to raise funds for projects big and small. The average successful campaign raises $7,000 in about nine weeks, but more than 91,000 people contributed $5.7 million to help make the Veronica Mars movie.
There's now even several crowdfunded efforts to buy the Los Angeles Clippers. Sites like Kickstarter gather pledges, but only collect the money once the goal is reached. Nas used Crowdtilt, which pays only after pledges hit a predetermined "tilt" point.
The Remalia family's effort is through GoFundMe, which provides donations instantly, meaning the family is getting help immediately to replace the basics while they wait on insurance.
"It starts the rebuilding process...to know we lost everything, but we can come back," said Carl.
But the recipient of the crowd-funding campaign doesn't get all the money raised - the sites take a commission ranging from five to 10-percent. Many also charge a processing fee.