LIMA — Amy started getting emotional when she thought about strangers helping bring her newly expanded family a little bit of holiday cheer this year.
“We’re moms, so we do what we’ve got to do,” she said. “We get by and… sorry…”
That’s when 3-year-old Annabelle jumps into the conversation, asking about lighting a candle so she can blow it out.
Annabelle and Susie, 6, are temporarily new members of Amy’s family, joining the home in February. Their mother, who was addicted to fentanyl, couldn’t care for them anymore. That will make the holidays a little tighter for Amy and her family, who’ve all had their names changed in this story to protect their privacy.
They’re one of the many families who will be profiled between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day this year with the Adopt A Stocking program, run through the Salvation Army in partnership with The Lima News. Donations to the program help bring a better holiday to the families featured in these stories.
The generosity of readers raised $10,180 to help the families profiled in 2021, not to mention the variety of individual items donated to particular families to help meet their needs.
“It’s comforting,” Amy said, “and it’s a relief to know there is somebody out there who understands and isn’t going to be like, ‘Well, if you couldn’t support them, why did you take them in?’”
She struggles with that on a nearly nightly basis. Her three children — Rosie, 15; Jayla, 12; and Chuck, 8 — were already past many of the childhood milestones when they realized the younger girls’ mother, a relative, needed someone to care for the children. She overdosed on fentanyl in front of her children, forcing the change and making Annabelle admit she’s mad at her mommy.
Amy’s older three children made the argument for bringing in these girls they already knew and loved. They’d lived with them once before, along with their mom, and they spent last Christmas with Amy’s family. Before she knew it, Amy was back to potty-training a then-2-year-old Annabelle, who luckily learned to use the bathroom quickly. They’re open to possibly making the family expansion permanent, if the girls’ mother can’t overcome her dependencies.
“My kids have been amazing,” Amy said. “My girls went from sharing a room with just the two of them in our three-bedroom house to having all four of the girls in there. I’ve never heard them complain about it.”
In fact, Rosie has helped become a caregiver, including learning how to cook. All of the children enjoy playing together in the yard or enjoying games around the house.
Annabelle is forceful about what she wants for Christmas: “I want boots,” she says, anxious to wear them so she can play in the snow. She wears a children’s size 7 shoe and 3T clothing. Susie could use size 9 shoes and 6X or 7/8 clothing.
“They can always use clothes since they grow so fast,” she said. “I think I forgot how fast they grow when they’re little.”
Chuck wears size 12 or 14 clothing. Jayla also wears 12/14 clothes, while Rosie wears medium in juniors.
While there’s been a strain from bringing the two youngest girls into the home, Amy says she can’t imagine being without them now.
“I didn’t realize how much extra two kids were going to be,” Amy said. “It’s definitely not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.”
ADOPT A STOCKING
The Adopt a Stocking Fund benefits families during the holiday season. Monetary donations can be given online at give.salvationarmy.org/stocking or via Adopt A Stocking; c/o The Salvation Army; P.O. Box 234, Lima, OH 45801. All material donations for a specific family should be dropped off at The Salvation Army, 614 E. Market St., Lima, and should include a copy of the article or the date the story appeared in The Lima News. See past stories at LimaOhio.com/tag/stocking.
Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.