Crowdfunding angels give kids a hand

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2014
Kate and Bryce
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

GRATEFUL: Kate Cockroft with baby daughter Lauren, brother Bryce and godmother Linda Newsome.

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Hundreds of "complete strangers" have donated nearly $40,000 to two Christchurch kids left with $175,000 debt when their mother died.

Nicky Cockroft lost a short battle with an aggressive form of cancer on March 17 and the 43-year-old's children, Kate and Bryce, are now staring down the barrel of a $140,000 mortgage.

Cockroft also left outstanding utility bills, about $7000 in credit card debt and the cost of her funeral was about $8500.

Kate, a 20-year-old single mother, and her 16-year-old brother are estranged from their fathers and have no other Christchurch family members.

The siblings' godmother, Linda Newsome, set up a crowdfunding page via Givealittle to try to relieve some financial pressure.

In a week since a story on their plight ran in the Sunday Star-Times, more than 730 donations totalling almost $40,000 were made.

Kate said she checked the Givealittle page on Saturday night and it had raised $605. Within 48 hours, it had raised more than $32,000, and it kept rising.

"There are not enough words to explain how thankful Bryce and I are. The kind hearts and generosity of others - complete strangers all over the world - has been overwhelming," she said.

A spokeswoman for Givealittle said that Kate and Bryce were among the top five beneficiaries of crowdfunding through the site in June. The story, however, raised questions, including whether it would be better for the children to sell the house and rent.

Newsome said that while Kate and Bryce could sell the house, paying rent would "eat away at all that capital until there is none left" and the rental market in post-quake Christchurch also meant high prices and sparse availability.

"Surely they are better to stay and pay off their own mortgage."

Newsome said she tried to discuss finances with Cockroft before she died, but her friend was "adamant all was in order and wouldn't discuss [it] any further".

It was too late to take out life insurance anyway.

"Only those that have been down this road will truly know how an illness like this is all-consuming and it takes all your strength to get from one day to the next. Admitting ‘this is the end' and therefore setting finances straight is truly hard. No-one wants to think they are at the end of their road," said Newsome.

"There are 730 angels out there who can never know how much this will help those kids.

"The lesser the amount [of debt] they have, the more chance they have of staying in the house and staying together. They only have each other now. Family is everything."

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