OCALA, Fla. – David DeSantis, the owner of Greiner Clothing store in Ocala, recently pledged $25,000 for people in need of support. The money was donated to United Way of Marion County, Interfaith Emergency Services and to 50 individual families in his community.
“People needed money, they needed cash and I know the government is trying their best to get it circulating and get it in people’s hands and that’s taking time and I just thought I could do this and get it to them quicker,” DeSantis, an Ocala native, said.
He also felt he needed to make a call for action, so he posted a message on Facebook describing his plans. His words moved another local business owner, Joel Raney, from Raney’s Truck Parts.
"I felt very compelled to join into that effort that David was wanting to build. He compared it to a ripple turning into a wave," Raney said. "It was a very sincere, very genuine message about him wanting to help families in need."
David’s message was so moving that Joel matched his pledge for a total of $50,000.
"I think there's a responsibility if you're in the situation where you can help right now, to help," Raney said.
DeSantis’ said that the response to his social media post from people wanting to help has been overwhelming in the best way possible. From his office inside his downtown store, he’s been taking phone calls and collecting checks.
"I'm telling you there is no small donation. Everything is being used," DeSantis said. "I've had a lot of anonymous donations, you know, friends, customers. I think people just should call and talk to their local agencies and find out what they're doing."
He views it all as an act of compassion and solidarity from strangers coming together for the community they love.
"This community has always stepped up. They always have. There's a lot of big hearts and there's a lot of good people," DeSantis said.
For Raney, it’s a representation of the people that live in the small town of Ocala and their sense of community.
“One of the greatest things that comes from this is I think the positivity it spreads in a time where there’s not much right now.”
DeSantis said he’s not currently collecting any more money to allocate to local nonprofits.