The fund-raising effort for bullied bus monitor Karen Huff Klein is now reaching the point the where the lines between altruism and shameless self-promotion may be blurring for the man behind the campaign.
Max Sidorov, a user of the fund-raising campaign site Indiegogo, spearheaded the campaign for Klein, which has raised $204,111 as of noon EST. The initial goal was merely to raise enough money - $5,000 - for Klein to go on a vacation.
The money raised for Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor for Athena Middle School in Greece, N.Y., should be commended. Klein makes only $15,506 a year.
If you haven't heard, Klein was bullied by a group of Athena Middle School students, who were recorded tormenting Klein in a YouTube video that has gone viral with more than 1.8 million views on the video sharing website. The video can be seen below.
Karen Huff Klein said the kids on the bus weren't always that rude or unruly, and said the incident wouldn't stop her from being a bus monitor, according to WSYR.
"Sometimes you expect kids to be like they acted, but not that bad. They weren't that bad all year," she told the station. "That one day, I don't know what possessed them."
The situation with helping Klein is starting to get out of control, however, after another Indiegogo user, Case Prince, launched an effort urging users to contribute to Sidorov. The campaign on behalf of Sidorov, titled "Love for Max Sidorov too," is at $1,795, with a goal of raising $2,500 for Klein's benefactor.
"Max Started the campaign that turned into a landslide of support for Karen Huff Klein and against bullying.. I feel Max deserves a small reward himself?...*," Prince wrote on the campaign's page.
Prince ends his message with "Let's pay it forward ... We need to encourage all the Maxes out there."
Sidorov is promoting the fund-raiser being held for himself on the page for Klein and also suggested users buy his nutrition book, "7 Steps to Health," on Amazon.
"If you guys do want to help, I would also love for you to get something good and healthy in return," Sidorov wrote. "I wrote a book about health and wellness which I put up on Amazon some time ago, so that is the best way I can think of that you can help me and also help yourselves become healthy!"
There's no doubt Sidorov is doing a lot of good for Klein, but he's also profiting off of Klein, raising questions about whether he's truly being altruistic or exploiting Klein's torment.
Messages sent to Sidorov, Prince and Klein have gone unreturned.
For the most part, the Max Sidorov fund-raising effort is being applauded by indiegogo users. But one user said they believe giving money to Sidorov is inappropriate.
"I'm glad you've given [Klein] full control of the money, that was the right thing to do, and I hope you do well financially out of this as well through media appearances etc. but I wholeheartedly disagree with you promoting your book on her page," Indiegogo user Philip wrote.
It's still too early to tell what Sidorov will do with the funds raised for him. It's up to him to see how this plays out. Will he use the money to benefit others like Klein or helped fund anti-bullying causes, or will he splurge on himself?
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