‘Astonished at the generosity’: Fundraiser for family who lost home in Arlington explosion raises thousands

Jami and Lance Smith, their two kids and family dog are alive and healthy after an explosion leveled their home earlier this week in Arlington, Virginia. Now, they’re heading into the holidays without a home.

“Many of us were just wondering: ‘How are we going to be able to help?'” said longtime family friend Derek Cole, who set up a GoFundMe for the Smiths.

“There are things that have been passed along through the family, there are personal mementos that can never be replaced,” he said.

Cole met the Smiths when they went to college together in the 90s.

Now, the real estate agent wants to do what he can by raising money to help his friends who lost everything.

“People were so very quick to help and ask what they could do to help and offer kind words and encouragement and support in so many different ways,” said Cole, who was unsure about how much to ask for when setting up the fundraiser.

“I received offers for Christmas trees and homes for the holidays, dog care, furniture, clothing. [You] can’t put a price on what someone loses when they lose everything,” he told WTOP.

The GoFundMe he created has already passed its fundraising goal twice, raising more than $220,000 by the end of Friday.

“I am astonished at the generosity of the Northern Virginia area and beyond. I am not surprised, because the family is very well loved. But the sheer scope and quickness of how that GoFundMe campaign has been wildly successful has really been astonishing. It gives me tremendous faith in humanity. And it really shows the spirit of giving, as we approach the holiday season,” said Cole.

Heather Gustafson

Heather Gustafson is a Freelance Anchor/Reporter for WTOP, a DMV native and an Emmy award-winning journalist lauded for her 2020 Black Lives Matter protests coverage.

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