Empty Stocking: Illness makes holidays harder

November 25, 2011

LIMA — Janet has worked pretty much all her life. She never made much, but what she did make she used to help others. That's what makes asking for help so hard.I always worked. For 22 years I worked the same job. I always tried to help people when I could. I always made my own money. Now I can't even help myself,” said Janet (not her real name).Janet has struggled with diabetes for most of her life. Still, she went to work every day, raised two children and lived a pretty good life. Then it all started to fall apart. She developed problems in her feet, a product of the diabetes that left her in so much pain she could barely walk. She lost sight in one eye, then her kidneys began to fail. Then in September, she got the news that it was about to get worse.“I went to the doctor to have a boil removed. Didn't think it was anything. He comes in, says he needs to tell me something. It's cancer. I went in Sept. 1, I didn't leave the hospital until Sept. 18,” Janet said.The blindness left her unable to drive. The pain left her unable to work. Eventually, she fell behind on her bills. The stress of the situation gave her an ulcer.“It all just adds up. It gets the point, I can't eat, can't keep food down, can't do anything,” she said.Janet's two children are grown and help her out when they can, but have their own kids and bills to cover. Other family members have also helped out, but the flood of bills has proved too much, even with help.“It's expensive. There's so much wrong with me, I put it in the hands of the Lord,” Janet said.Unlike most of the participants in the Empty Stocking program, Janet isn't hoping for gifts for herself or her family. Instead, she wants help to pay off some of her bills or, at the very least, put some food on the table. “I get out there and I try my best, but sometimes I just can't do it,” Janet said. “I need help. I've asked God to help me. Maybe he can use this to do it.”The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies: Bradfield Community Center, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Federal Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. For past stories, go to These stories use assumed names to protect the participants' privacy.

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