MIAMI — The mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin will be able to take about eight months of paid leave from her county job, thanks to the generosity of county employees.
Sybrina Fulton, who has worked at the Miami-Dade County housing authority for 23 years, collected $40,825 worth of donated vacation time, county records show. The paid time off is in addition to the nearly $100,000 the family raised on wepay.com and at rallies, which will be used to launch a criminal justice advocacy foundation in Trayvon's name.
The donated days are the latest in a mounting fortune in contributions that have amassed on both sides of the controversial case. With websites dedicated to the grieving parents of Trayvon Martin as well as for the man who killed him, and now even his attorney, funds gathered in the wake of the Feb. 26 tragedy promise to reach half a million dollars. Donors continue to reach into their pockets, even as each side criticizes the other's purpose and intent in seeking donations.
"They are using the money to continue the legacy of their son," said Michael Hall, a graphic designer and marketing specialist who helped launch the Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation. The parents created the nonprofit in March in response to their son's killing. "They didn't want a situation where people could say they were profiting off the loss of their son."
Hall said Trayvon's parents will become paid employees of the foundation, compensated for their time conducting speaking engagements and other advocacy work. He stressed that the foundation would keep Fulton and her ex-husband, Tracy Martin, at the levels of income they already made — not higher.
Until now, the parents' extensive travel expenses have been paid either by their attorney, Benjamin Crump, or by whoever invited them to the event they attended, he said. They turned all checks they received over to the Miami Foundation, a pre-existing and separate organization that is administering the Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation's trust fund, and will help establish a board of directors, review expenditures and conduct audits, Hall said. The goal is to raise $1.5 million for programs such as teaching conflict resolution to teens.
The first order of business: a movement to repeal the Stand Your Ground laws that exist around the nation. Fulton released a video on Friday, timed for Mother's Day, on secondchancecampaign.org urging Americans to appeal to their governors to eliminate such laws.
Last month the Miami-Dade County Commission passed a resolution to allow county employees to donate vacation time to Fulton or Trayvon's aunt, Yolanda Knight Evans, a water and sewer customer-service representative. A similar measure was passed last year to help the families of two slain police officers.
Trayvon's family are not the only ones raising money.
George Zimmerman, the man who shot their son, raised $204,000 in just three weeks with a PayPal account posted to a website. He spent about $50,000 before his defense lawyer ever learned of the fund's swelling balance, his attorney, Mark O'Mara, acknowledged.
O'Mara recently created a new fundraising site administered by a former IRS agent and registered with the Florida Division of Consumer Services. He told ABC News that he raised nearly $8,000 in the first few days the site was active.
The fund now also includes $150,000 transferred from the original PayPal account Zimmerman had set up.