When Shaina Bell left her three children to go to work, she wasn’t planning on spending the night in jail. “I had to go to work. My daughter decided that she wanted to stay here. My daughter told me that this is where she wants to be, and I felt that she was old enough to be able to stay here with her sister for a few hours because my job is right down the street,” Bell told CBS affiliate WKBN. Bell, who works at a Little Caesars not far from the Motel 6 where she had been living with the children, was scheduled to be off work around 10 pm.
The children’s father reported to local police that the children, Faith, 9, Jai’Sean, 7, and Jade, 3, had been left alone, landing Shaina with two misdemeanor charges of child endangerment. When confronted by police, Bell said she arranged for someone to check on her children every hour while she was at work according to NBC affiliate WFMJ.
“I never set blame on anybody for anything because at the end of the day nobody left my kids in the hotel but me,” she told WKBN. “I’ve cried a couple of times since this situation started. I’m just trying to keep a level head and trying to stay strong because that’s all I can do.”
The story, which garnered equal shares of support and criticism, is a harsh reminder of the difficulty many parents face in finding affordable childcare. A GoFundMe started by Bell’s mother has already raised over $130,000 at the time of this writing for the single mom and her family. Which is great, but also this shouldn’t be up to GoFundMe donors to fix. If more people had a living wage and childcare subsidies, all of this could have been avoided.
— WKBN 27 First News (@WKBN) February 18, 2021
“A lot of people are saying hurtful things, but a lot of people are also being there for me and showing great support. I have over $100,000 in a GoFundMe account right now. I didn’t ask for that, but people gave it to me, and I’m just over appreciative to what’s going on,” Bell told WKBN. She said she’s going to use the money to buy a home for herself and her kids.
The crowdfunding campaign is being widely shared on social media and has received donations from NBA star JaVale McGee and hip-hop label founder Pierre “Pee” Thomas, who donated $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.
In a comment on Instagram story sharing the campaign, McGee wrote, “Someone get me this young lady info. My mom used to have to do the same thing when we were young, not cause of abandonment issues, it’s because people can’t afford child care working at a pizza shop. She wasn’t hanging out at a club. She was at work.”
Bell, who pleaded not guilty to the child endangerment charges, is scheduled to appear in court in April, though many supporters are hopeful the charges will be dropped.