More than $54,000 has been raised on GoFundMe to help lay Andrew “AJ” Freund to rest and support his siblings.
More than 1,100 donors raised $54,671 since the campaign went live April 24.
In a statement to the Northwest Herald, GoFundMe said the funds are being “safely held.”
“When a campaign is created to support another individual, funds are safely held and only transferred to the beneficiary of the campaign,” the statement reads. “In this case, the funds will only be released to AJ’s grandmother and they will be used solely for the stated purpose on the campaign page. If funeral costs are covered, the page states excess funds will be used to support AJ’s brother [.]”
The company said it will work with the campaign organizer to ensure the funds are transferred “directly to the grandmother.”
The company also said several campaigns were removed because they violated the terms of service.
AJ, 5, died April 15 after the parents forced the boy into a cold shower for an extended period of time and beat him, according to Crystal Lake police. A public visitation for the child will be held Friday.
The visitation will run from 1 to 8 p.m. at Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory, 419 E. Terra Cotta Ave., in Crystal Lake.
AJ was a “ray of sunshine with a smile that could light up the room,” according to the obituary published by Davenport Family Funeral Homes. “AJ was a loving, affectionate and outgoing little boy. His giggle and laugh will never be forgotten.”
Kim Clauson, of Johnsburg, said she was inspired to organize the campaign when she learned of the circumstances surrounding AJ’s death. Clauson said she’s known the family for years because her son went to school with AJ’s older brother.
Clauson said she never expected to raise so much money.
“I had no idea the response would be what it has been,” she said. “It’s was a little seed of me thinking I could help out a little, but it turned into this huge thing.”
Clauson said she believes people are donating to pay respects to AJ and help deal with their own grief over the situation.
“I think it’s because this tragedy has touched everybody in Crystal Lake, Woodstock, all the neighboring communities,” she said. “It’s an outlet for people to personally express their condolences.”
Clauson said she’s working with the family attorney to ensure any funds left over from the funeral will be held in a trust for his siblings.
Donations can be made at gofundme.com/f/d62g4d-rest-in-peace-aj.