LIMA — In the dining room, Myrtle has put up the Christmas tree, old-fashioned style with tinsel.
Out in the living room, she’s got a makeshift craft station set up. She’s latch hooking a tree skirt.
“I’m working on it,” she said. “I hope it get it done in time for Christmas.” There’s not a lot of fancy in the meager duplex, but there is love, and there is care, along with that tree, when her grandchildren arrive on Christmas.
Myrtle, not her real name, has spent every spare cent gaining custody of her grandchildren, a girl, 12, and two boys, 10 and 6.
Myrtle’s daughter had given primary custody to two of the children’s father. Several years later, Myrtle believed they weren’t in a good situation, so she started working to get them to Lima with her. Their mother works in Toledo, pays child support and sees the children, Myrtle said, but she has some health problems.
“Their father wasn’t abiding by the custody agreement,” Myrtle said. “They haven’t been to the doctor or dentist. The oldest has hygiene needs that aren’t being taken care of. It’s taken every penny to get them here, but it will be worth every penny. We’ll get their medical taken care of; they’ll be loved. It’s just unnecessary crappola.”
Myrtle’s head spins when she thinks of the gas she’s put in the car for trips to Bowling Green, where her grandchildren have been, and Toledo, where her daughter is. That along with all of the other bills doesn’t leave much left from her disability payments. And, she knows there won’t be much, if anything, under the tree when the children arrive, and she knows they won’t come with much either, meaning she’ll need help just getting them basics.
But she thinks of the kids.
“They are so smart, so talented. The oldest likes to sing,” she said. “I want them to have goals, to go to college. It’s time for that cycle to break. You know, when they were younger, I would lie on the couch and they would all climb on top of me and hug at the same time. I just love them to death.”
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.