Talbott Smith was shocked when he learned that the Philadelphia man who opened a letter bomb last week was his friend of more than 40 years, Jim Alden.
Alden suffered wounds to his face, chest, and hands after he picked up a manila envelope that had been left on his Center City doorstep in the middle of the night. When he opened it in his kitchen about 4 a.m. Nov. 22, it exploded.
"I've never known anyone who didn't like him," said Smith, 62, a retired California unemployment department official who met Alden when they acted in community theater in Alden's hometown of Modesto. "It's just a horrible thing to have happen to a really nice person."
To help Alden's recovery, Smith set up a crowd-funding page on YouCaring.com with a goal of $25,000.
While Alden has health insurance, the page says, not all of his expenses will be met. In its first 24 hours, the page raised $7,000 from about 80 donors.
"I'm floored by the response," said Smith, who lives in Sacramento. "The compassion and generosity of my friends."
In addition to many of Alden's friends from Modesto, New York City, and Philadelphia, "people are reaching out who don't even know him and making donations," Smith said.
Smith said he called Alden and asked permission to create the crowd-funding page, which he hopes will help with Alden's expenses, including kitchen repairs, until he can return to work as a bartender.
"It's a very humbling time," Smith said, "and he's very grateful for what we have done. He keeps saying, 'Thank you, I don't know how I can ever thank you enough for doing this.' "
The newspaper's efforts to reach Alden, who was treated at Jefferson University Hospital, for comment were unsuccessful.
YouCaring.com does not require recipients to meet their goal before they start to receive money. Smith said Alden will receive donations periodically and automatically.
"[Alden is] concerned about living, paying his rent, meeting his financial obligations," Smith said. "The more I've talked to him about what's in his future, I honestly think [$25,000] may not be enough to get him through this period of time."