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Community helps Carlsbad woman living out of her car

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- She had a normal life until suddenly, she was sleeping in her car with her two dogs. Now, San Diegans are opening their hearts to help 78-year-old Edie Russell get a warm bed and get back on her feet.

“I thank every one of them. I haven’t met all of them but I’m grateful beyond words," Russell said. "Without their help I don't know where I would be."

It took just three weeks for Russell to end up homeless. While living on a fixed income of less than $1,000 a month, paying for her spot in a trailer park became too much.

“I got behind and stayed behind. I owed a year of back rent,” she said.

It took three weeks to become homeless -- but just three days for someone to care.

“This woman came up to me while I was living in the car and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, ‘I hate to tell you, I’m embarrassed that I’m homeless,’” Russell said.

That stranger gave her food and $5 but most importantly, treated her like a human being.

“And from there it just snowballed like crazy. It’s really a great feeling,” she said.

Neighbors started posting alerts on the social network Nextdoor. “Please help me find help for this woman,” they wrote. They fixed her car, set up a You Caring page and got her into a Motel 6, where she finally took a warm shower and enjoyed a good night's sleep.

“It was rough because I’d stay awake half the night wondering what was going to happen to us,” she said while sitting on her motel bed.

“I think that just speaks volumes for where people’s heart is on stuff like this,” said Jack Risley, who runs the Carlsbad Senior Center where Edie first parked.

The center gave her free meals and watched as the community threw out a safety net for a stranger.

“Edie had fallen through the cracks right away. Like in a matter of weeks she found herself in her car and I guess that theoretically could be a lot of people,” Risley said.

Russell still has no permanent place to live and she needs a job to help get back on her feet. Anyone who wishes to help her out can donate to a You Caring account set up by her supporters.