Shain Gandee did not get rich during his brief stint as an MTV reality star -- far from it -- so his family is turning to his community to help pay for funeral expenses ... TMZ has learned.
Shain's cousin, Ashley Gandee, is organizing a memorial "mud run" (an off-road trucking event) to ease the financial strain on Shain's family in the wake of the "Buckwild" star's death.
"I know the strain they are going through," Ashley tells us ... adding, "It's hard to provide a proper burial. It's already tough with the loss of family members ... expenses are tough as well."
FYI -- Ashley was with Shain at the opening of her shop Gandee's General Store in Crown City, Ohio on Saturday ... two days before he was found dead.
Ashley tells us the "mud run" event will take place Wednesday night in Proctorville, Ohio -- a town about 50 miles from Charleston, West Virginia where "Buckwild" is filmed.
We're told there will be a $10 charge for each vehicle -- Ashley's store will also be taking donations.
It's unclear how much dough Shain made during his career on the MTV show -- but as we learned from the "Jersey Shore" situation, the stars don't usually see a big pay day until AFTER the show becomes a hit. It's safe to say Shain was probably making a couple thousand dollars at best.
As we previously reported ... Shain was found dead in his Ford Bronco Monday in West Virginia -- along with his uncle and a male friend -- after the vehicle was submerged in mud. Carbon Monoxide poisoning may have been the cause.