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After Hurricane Sandy kills parents, Rutgers student must raise 3 siblings

A screen shot of Wishuponahero.com shows the appeal by Zoe Everett, a Rutgers student who lost her parents to Hurricane Sandy and now must raise her three younger siblings.

A 19-year-old Rutgers University student has decided to put college on hold to care for her three younger siblings after their parents were killed by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy.

Richard Everett, 54, and his wife, Elizabeth, 46, of Randolph, N.J., were driving through Mendham Township during the storm when a tree crushed their truck, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

Their two sons, Theo, 14, and Pierce, 11, were riding in the back but not seriously harmed, the newspaper said. Their two daughters, Zoe, 19, and Talia, 17, were not with them.

"Before Hurricane Sandy I was a typical 19-year-old student at Rutgers," Zoe Everett posted on Wishuponahero.com. She told about the 100-mph wind that knocked down the tree onto the pickup’s cab and the call she received while she was studying for an exam.

"At 11 p.m. on Oct. 29, I found out both of my parents had been killed," Everett wrote. "A moment in time, a second of bad luck, changed my life and my siblings' lives forever."

"I now have two goals: caring for and being guardian of my three younger siblings and keeping my family in the house we grew up in."

After Everett posted her story on Wishuponahero.com, more than $56,000 in donations poured in. 

The family’s finances are frozen while lawyers sort out the estate, said Dave Girgenti, the site's founder. "The donations will tide them over."

The fundraising goal for the Everett family was only $5,000. "The entire country came together to help this girl with her tragedy. Her wish is granted," Girgenti said.

Overwhelmed by the public's generosity, Everett wrote a follow-up post thanking people for their donations and directing them to give to others.

"Wish Upon a Hero has raised funds for my family that have exceeded our wildest dreams," Everett wrote Thursday in response to the fundraising. "The donations have ensured our well-being for the next few months and will hold us over until we are able to access our own funds."

"My family has been so blessed, and we would like to be able to do the same for others who have suffered the misfortune of Hurricane Sandy," she wrote.

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