LIMA — The last thing Margie and Richard want is to let their four children down at Christmas.
The four children, Joel, 10, Cheryl, 9, Tim, 6, and Larry, 6, all are young enough they still believe in Santa Claus. Margie and Richard do not want to destroy that. Childhood only happens once, after all.
But Richard is out of work and Margie has been laid off since work at her job slowed. Richard has been out of work for four years and is willing to take anything just to get working again, he said.
They have no money to pay their rent and the landlord is threatening them with eviction. They are behind on utility bills such as gas and electric.
“I have not worked for a solid two and a half weeks. That’s one of the main reasons we can’t get our rent right now,” she said.
The couple of 21 years have never had times this tough. They are strapped.
They have applied for assistance with churches and the government but only have been approved for food stamps and a medical card.
Richard had tried going back to school but recently struggled in a class. Because he failed the course, he is required to repay the class with his own money before he can receive more funding.
But he doesn’t have the money for that so college is on hold.
“I’m trying to better myself,” he said.
Margie wants her children to appreciate Christmas for the true spirit of the holiday but she’s realistic, too.
“Just being with your family is the most important thing but it’s hard to say that to kids that young especially when they still believe in Santa Claus,” she said.
She also knows kids expect presents, she said.
“If they wake up and don’t see any presents under the tree, the first thing they will think is they were naughty. They will not think Mom and Dad can’t get us anything,” Margie said.
Still, Richard and Margie have not given up on the Christmas spirit. In fact, they put up two trees hoping for a Christmas miracle. They just don’t know if there’s a chance.
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.