NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A crowdfunding drive to help rebuild three African American churches gutted by arson fires in Louisiana has surpassed its original $1.8 million goal.

A spokeswoman for GoFundMe says in a Thursday email that people in all 50 states and around the world have made more than 35,000 donations. Donations totaled more than $1.97 million as of Thursday afternoon.

The money is to be distributed equally among the three century-old St. Landry Parish churches: St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

Fundraising surged after Monday’s Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, as social media commenters urged people not to forget the plight of the black churches.

A 21-year-old white man, Holden Matthews, was arrested in connection with the fires.

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