The family of a Brevard County teacher and her mother who both died last week from COVID-19 are struggling to pay for their burials and are turning to the community for help, a family member said.
Friends of Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School teacher Elizabeth Toro have set up a GoFundMe page to help raise the necessary funds.
Toro, 52, died Nov. 9 at Rockledge Regional Medical Center from complications relating to COVID-19, less than a day after her mother Maria Morales, 73, also died from the virus, Morales’ cousin Audelith Martinez told FLORIDA TODAY.
Toro and Morales were listed as each others’ beneficiaries, were unmarried and had no close relatives living in Florida, Martinez said, which has complicated the sorting of their life insurance.
With a looming deadline from the hospital, the family is now racing to raise funds for their loved ones’ final arrangements, she said.
“My cousin did not expect to die with her daughter, and they had power of attorney for each other, which has left the family completely out of the picture,” Martinez said.
“We have spent three weeks dealing with (COVID-19), and now we have to jump in to figure out how to put our loved ones to rest,” she said. “It’s insane.”
Toro’s friends have asked the community to help. On Friday, Johnson Middle School teacher Elizabeth Henderson on behalf of Toro’s family started a donations page on the fundraising website GoFundMe.
By Monday morning, it had raised $3,000 of its $5,000 goal.
“Liz was an amazing teacher and friend,” Henderson wrote on the page. “To know her was to love her. She was best known for her dedication and immense passion for helping her students succeed.”
Any funds raised over the target will go toward helping Toro’s students in need, the page said.
“We were trying to take care of this on our own as a family, but were running into so many roadblocks to figure out what to do,” Martinez said.
“We want to keep them in Florida. That’s the state they loved and lived in, and even if there’s no close family, they have a network of friends that adored them.”