EAST VILLAGE — The family of 12-year-old Dashane Santana, who was struck and killed by a minivan while crossing Delancey Street Jan. 13, has raised almost enough money to pay for the tragic girl's funeral this week thanks to an outpouring of support from the community.
Teresa Pedroza, Dashane's grieving grandmother, said the family collected more than $5,000 to offset the $8,500 cost of the funeral.
Between new donations and pledges, which were continuing to pour in, they believe they will have enough to bury the girl, a Juilliard hopeful who loved to sing and dance. They have also raised money through Pay Pal, but the payments take several business days to process.
"It's a weight lifted off my shoulders," said Pedroza, who lives in the East Village's Jacob Riis Houses. "It's amazing."
Shortly after her granddaughter's sudden death, Pedroza realized the enormous funeral expenses would be too much for Dashane's parents to pay on their own, so she sprang into action.
With the girl's young cousins at her side, Pedroza went door-to-door in and around the Jacob Riis Houses, asking the residents for whatever they could spare. That's how she collected the first $600.
"I didn't know what to do — I just knew it had to be done," Pedroza said. "My son and [Santana's] mother are not equipped to do this at all. They can't even comprehend it. They're still in shock."
Students at CASTLE Middle School on Henry Street, which Dashane attended, raised another $1,000, and a pair of fundraisers held over the weekend brought in an additional nearly $2,000, Pedroza said.
The grandmother views the fundraising as the last gift she will be able to give her dancing, music-loving granddaughter, who would have turned 13 on Feb. 7.
The work of raising money has given Pedroza something to focus on — but she can't always keep her grief at bay.
During Saturday evening's fundraiser at the Parkside Lounge on Houston Street — which featured musicians, including Grammy nominee Gregory Porter, volunteering their time — a group of firefighters from the nearby Pitt Street station house strode into the bar.
Pedroza initially thought they were there to reprimand her for placing candles on some of the tables. Instead, they handed her an envelope stuffed with $400 they had collected, mostly in small bills.
"I thought they were going to shut us down," Pedroza recalled on Monday, choking up. "When they gave me an envelope, I started crying."
On Monday afternoon, Pedroza and Brian Bacchus, a family friend who helped organize the weekend's fundraisers, brought an envelope of cash with the most recent donations to the Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home, which is handling the funeral arrangements.
A worker there said she was astounded by the outpouring of support the funeral home has received, from the $117 money order recently slipped under its door to the phone calls from strangers living everywhere from Florida to Pittsburgh asking how they can help.
"This has been just overwhelming," said the worker, who declined to give her name. "I've personally felt it — it's been overwhelming."
Bacchus said he was both surprised and moved by the generous response.
"It makes you proud that people really care," he said. "It's not as cold a world as you think it is sometimes."
Viewing hours for Dashane Santana will be held from 2 to 9 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home, 43 Second Ave. The funeral service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 25 at St. Emeric's Church, 185 Avenue D. Those who want to donate can do so via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.