CRAWFORD, Texas - With only $3 in the bank, things looked pretty grim for the Crawford Peace House two weeks ago.
The telephone had been cut off a month ago for nonpayment. The co-founders had used some of their own money to pay the mortgage and electric bill for the four-room bungalow, which opened a month after the war with Iraq began in March 2003.
More than $150,000 has been donated to the Crawford Peace House since Cindy Sheehan's arrival.
Then came Cindy Sheehan. The grieving California mother's quest to talk to President Bush about the war that claimed her 24-year-old son's life inspired thousands of war opponents.
More than $150,000 in donations have poured into the Crawford Peace House since Ms. Sheehan arrived Aug. 6 and started a makeshift campsite along the road leading to Mr. Bush's ranch, vowing to stay until he talks to her. Because the rural campsite is small, most of the hundreds of visitors spend much of their time at the Peace House, which became Ms. Sheehan's headquarters.
"This has gone absolutely way beyond our imagination or expectations ever," said Hadi Jawad, one of the co-founders.
Mr. Jawad and John Wolf, affiliated with the Dallas Peace Center, wanted a place for activists to gather in Mr. Bush's adopted hometown even before the war began. After finding the two-bedroom, one-bathroom white-clapboard house just across the railroad tracks from downtown Crawford, they bought it for about $65,000. They made the down payment with proceeds from selling anti-war buttons for $1 apiece at peace rallies.
Many of the town's 700 residents view the Peace House as a nuisance, and the overwhelmingly Republican area believes the house hurts the town's image.
Mr. Jawad met Ms. Sheehan this month after she spoke at the Veterans for Peace convention in Dallas. When he learned of her plans to travel to Crawford the next day, he gave her a key to the Peace House.
Ms. Sheehan has said she was so touched by his pledge to support her cause, despite the all-but-empty bank account, that she wrote a $250 check so the telephone could be turned back on.
Now the Peace House can pay its bills on time for a while, as well as expand and improve Ms. Sheehan's camp. The house has spent thousands on food for the hundreds of visitors and $20,000 to rent a tent that can shade 1,000 people. The tent used for concerts is on a private 1-acre lot owned by a landowner who also opposes the war, about a mile from the original campsite.
Mr. Jawad said he expects donations to continue even though Ms. Sheehan left Thursday to be with her ailing mother in California. She is expected to return to Texas this week.
© 2005 Associated Press