Viral kids creator Ms. Rachel says she experienced bullying after fundraising for children in Gaza – NBC News

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Rachel Griffin Accurso, the social media creator and teacher known as Ms. Rachel, said she’s experienced bullying online following the announcement of a fundraiser she launched for children living in conflict zones, including the Gaza Strip.

Accurso, who has 2 million followers on Instagram and 9.73 million YouTube subscribers, announced her fundraiser Sunday. She said “every penny” of the donations will go toward the child-focused humanitarian nonprofit Save the Children.

On Thursday, Accurso shared an emotional Instagram Reel in which she wipes away tears while describing the reaction to her fundraising efforts. She said she’s received comments accusing her of not caring about “all kids.” 

“That is who I am,” she said in the video. “I love my neighbor; I love every child. Imagining for one second what a mom is going through unable to feed her child or give her child clean water or keep her child safe.”

She reiterated that message in her caption, where she wrote she cares “deeply for all children.”

“Palestinian children, Israeli children, children in the US — Muslim, Jewish, Christian children — all children, in every country,” she wrote. “Not one is excluded.”

The video has been liked almost 200,0000 times as of Friday.

Representatives for Accurso and Save the Children did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Accurso is among a handful of creators who have launched similar fundraising initiatives amid the conflict in Gaza, where Israel’s military assault has shut off a number of crossings that are crucial for supplies of food, fuel and other aid to Palestinians.

Her efforts also come amid an ongoing debate about the power influencers have to assist in humanitarian crises. Various creators across platforms have amplified fundraising efforts for families seeking to escape Gaza, while some pro-Palestinian audiences have blocked influencers and celebrities who have been silent on the issue. 

Accurso has been fundraising by making Cameos, or paid personalized videos produced by influencers and celebrities, and donating the money to Save the Children’s emergency fund. The donations will help children in various conflict zones around the world, including Gaza, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine, she said.

“Hopefully I can make little ones smile by giving them a personal video and then the money will go to help more children living in unimaginable circumstances,” she said in her announcement on Instagram. “Children should never experience the horrors of war. These are grave violations of their human rights. Children should be protected.” 

Accurso shared Monday that she had raised $50,000 within a few hours of her Cameo services going live. She said she accepted 500 requests for personal videos and would be pausing new inquiries until the videos are finished. 

A spokesperson for Cameo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a follow-up video, she thanked her followers for their support and reiterated her message of raising awareness for “children’s rights.”

The United Nations had previously warned that children in Gaza were facing famine and disease amid the deadly conflict in the region. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has fully identified 7,797 children who have been killed since Oct. 7 — when Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel, triggering Israel’s military response in Gaza — although the government media office in Gaza says the number of fatalities is higher. OCHA recently changed the way it breaks down the death toll in Gaza, which sparked some confusion.

“The numbers have not dramatically shifted. The overall tally remains unchanged — 35,000,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said in emailed comments to NBC News on Monday. “What is new is the level of verification (‘full details have been documented’) for a subset of 24,686 of those fatalities.”

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