LIMA — Life was good for Jill, Jack and their seven children. They were just starting to enjoy their cozy three-bedroom home in Lima and settling in for their version of the American dream.
“We were doing really well,” Jill said. “We actually had just bought our house a year before the pandemic hit.”
Then Jack was laid off from his factory job. Jill tried to help make ends meet with a job at a nearby distribution center, but she lost that job after a bout with bronchitis. She recently has been cleaning houses to help financially, and Jack found a new job.
Still, they’ve switched from thriving to surviving.
“I’m stressed to the max, trying to pay bills that have fallen behind and trying to keep everything where we need to,” Jill said. I’m behind on my car payment. Everything is just a mess right now.”
Jill just wants to provide her family with the type of Christmas season they deserve.
That’s where the Adopt a Stocking Fund might help. The program, run through the Salvation Army in partnership with The Lima News, highlights families that benefit from extra help. Their heartbreaking stories, using pseudonyms to protect their privacy, will be highlighted in the newspaper between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Last year, the Adopt a Stocking Fund raised $12,040. That helped 639 families, including 1,616 children, have a better holiday. In all, the program benefited 2,930 people.
“They may get extra help beyond what we can give them,” said Major Debbie Stacy, of the Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army can only do so much. So we reach out to the community to use their gifts, their talents and their donations to help more than we can.”
Jill and Jack just want to find age-appropriate gifts for their seven children, ranging in age from 3 to 16. The younger children don’t understand the financial struggles, so they want the same kinds of toys any child would want.
The oldest children, a boy and a girl, have more practical wishes, such as a dresser to store their clothing.
“My oldest kids are pretty understanding about what’s happening,” Jill said. “The younger kids don’t understand because they don’t know. This our first year that we’ve really struggled like this.”
Jill is trying to stay optimistic, but it’s hard.
“I don’t have much faith,” she said, “because I see everybody else is struggling as well.”
Stacy has seen the power of people’s donations. In the past, people have chipped in to help replace a roof or provide medical supplies to the area families highlighted in these stories.
“You’re heartbroken for these families,” Stacy said. “There’s hope and joy because of this, the Christmas season, and that’s what it’s about. This community is a giving community, and that’s a blessing for us all.”