01 tree of life synagogue
CNN  — 

Shay Khatiri woke up on his Jewish friend’s couch to the devastating news. A mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue had left 11 people dead and several others injured.

“She told me what happened and she was just broken,” Khatiri told CNN. “Seeing how upset she was, I wanted to donate to the congregation.”

But Khatiri didn’t have much to give. The 29-year-old graduate student was crashing on his friend Sara Sirota’s couch for a few weeks while saving up for a new apartment.

Shay Khatiri

“I thought to myself, I could donate $18 or $36 – something like that. But that wouldn’t make a huge impact,” he said. “If I did something like this, maybe it could go viral and have a huge impact,” he added.

By “this,” he meant ‘start a GoFundMe campaign.’

And he was right. He had set a goal of $50,000. But in less than 24 hours since he started it Saturday, the campaign raised nearly six times that.

“It was literally two minutes of my life,” said Khatiri, a student at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in DC.

Khatiri has now raised his fundraising goal to $1 million, and more than 4,800 people have already donated. The money will go to help the congregation at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

“Everyone talks about how divided we are. But in such a tragic moment, Americans are always powerful and indivisible in trauma,” he said.

“Every time something happens, I am reminded of how great this country is.”