Last updated: August 24. 2013 10:04PM - 149 Views

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LIMA — When Mark and Jenny hooked up a few years back, their future looked promising.Now, there's not much more than promises to hold onto — but they're determined to hold on. Their jobs at a local manufacturer dried up with the last round of layoffs. “We've put in applications,” said Jenny, a 2003 Lima Senior graduate. “We keep trying and trying, and nothing comes back.”Two of the three children have serious health problems. Their oldest, Annie, is a healthy 7-year-old second-grader, but Mark Jr. has a heart murmur and a growth disability — born prematurely, the 1-year-old is falling farther and farther behind the growth charts, Jenny says. And 4-year-old Sarah's kidneys are failing. Both younger siblings require frequent regular trips to see specialists in Dayton — trips complicated last week when the couple's 13-year-old van died.“I had a delivery job at (a local pizza restaurant),” said Mark, 22, a graduate of Apollo Career Center's heavy equipment operator program. “But then the van blew up and they won't work with me, so they had to let me go. Now I'm stressed out, worried, can't find work.”It seems the calamities pile up. Just this week, their refrigerator quit working.That's when they turned to the Empty Stocking Fund for help. Jenny filled out an application form through the Lima Salvation Army. She said it's hard asking for charity, but the kids won't have much Christmas this year without a little assistance.Mark and Jenny said they're willing to struggle on, taking whatever jobs they can find — baby-sitting, mowing lawns, automotive repairs. They've managed to stay out debt, but just barely, thanks in large part to help from family and friends. They have few and simple wishes for Christmas. A reliable vehicle would be nice. Their kids' health. Employment. A few toys for the kids. Annie would love a Playstation gaming system like the one at her grandma's house, but their aging, small portable TV isn't compatible for that, anyway. Sarah would be thrilled with any Dora the Explorer items. Mark Jr. would like anything appropriate for year-old boys.And yes, Mark and Jenny want to get married someday soon. Jenny already has her gown put away for the big day. They need to find steady jobs first. They can't afford a proper wedding yet.But it is one of those promises they're hanging onto. One of the promises they intend to keep.

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