LIMA — Liz knows hard work.
She is a mother to nine children, eight of whom still live at home.
She is sole provider for her family and works 10-hour shifts at a factory job she knows she was lucky to find.
She lives in a rough neighborhood in which she says her pitbull is her greatest protection. “The neighbors are great, but the people who come into this area are the ones who bring trouble,” she said from the living room of her tiny home, where faded pictures hang from the lathe walls.
The father of her children has been in jail since early fall for beating up their son. With him went the family’s paycheck, forcing Liz to get a job.
“He’s bipolar, and he never wanted me to work outside. The last time I worked was 13 years ago,” she said. Friends got her this job, and take her to work the two days each week that she’s called into work.
“I leave at 3:30 in the afternoon and get home at 2:45 in the morning,” Liz said. “I get to see my kids in the morning and right when they get out of school on days when I work.”
Because she won’t leave them alone during those long hours she’s at the job, her mother allows the kids to stay at her house, a few blocks away.
“I walk them over there every day,” Liz said. Not wishing to enter her own home in the wee hours of the morning, Liz also bunks with her Mom on nights she works.
Liz is working to meet the bills. “But my Mom has to help me out,” she said.
She struggles to meet the emotional needs of her children. “My baby asks every day when Daddy is coming home,” Liz said. Due out after the first of the year, Liz doesn’t know whether to allow him back into the home. “When he’s on his meds he’s OK. If he’s not, you don’t want him around the kids,” she said.
Another son has social problems in school. Liz said a video of him being beaten up was on You Tube. “Yeah, I watched that, and it was hard,” she said.
At this point, Liz believes her budget, as well as her nerves, are stretched to the limit.
“I don’t think I can do anything for my kids this year for Christmas,” she said.
But her children do have items they would like for the holiday, and Liz knows their wants by heart.
“My 17-year son loves listening to music, and he needs jeans in size 34x32. My 15-year-old son likes sports, he’ll play anything … football, basketball, track. My 14-year-old girl loves make-up and jewelry, and my 12-year-old boy likes robot stuff. My 10-year-old girl likes craft stuff, making jewelry. My 9 and my 6-year-old boys like anything that has to do with wrestling, and my eight-year-old boy likes remote control cars and trucks.”
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 LimaOhio.com/emptystocking. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants’ privacy.