Empty Stocking: Single mother’s sacrifices keep family close

LIMA — Amber sleeps on the couch downstairs, a sacrifice that ensures each of her three children has a bed of their own.

The single mother often considers taking a second job to supplement her preschool teacher income, as she did prior to having twins Jenna and Kyle, 5.

Then she could move her family out of the two-bedroom townhouse they’ve outgrown and keep up on her car payments, which are 90 days late.

But a second job would pull Amber away from her children during a formative time of their lives, so for now she sleeps downstairs, sells blood plasma, prays her car won’t get repossessed and that her kids won’t see her cry.

“They wouldn’t be the great kids that they are in school and excel the way that they are” if they spent their evenings away from home, Amber said. “Academics is very important to me.”

Amber, Jenna, Kyle and Kayla, 13, whose names have been changed, are among the dozens of Lima-area families enrolled in the Salvation Army’s Adopt a Stocking Fund, which provides Christmas gifts to needy families each year.

“I normally don’t reach out for help,” Amber said, “(but) I just got to the point where I broke down and I had to reach out for help.”

Amber needs a fullsize bedframe for Kayla, wooden bunk beds for Jenna and Kyle, a dresser and clothing for all of her children: size 5t-6t for Jenna and Kyle; size 12-14 for Kayla.

Kyle loves science, dinosaurs and Minecraft, while Jenna loves art, baby dolls and Barbies.

Suggested gifts include a drawing table, coloring kits, children’s makeup, a Barbie house, Legos, Minecraft and educational toys, as well as new sheets and blankets.

Amber prays that her sacrifices will all be worth it as her youngest children prepare to enter kindergarten.

“I’m a tough mom,” she said. “I keep going. I do whatever. … But I’m also at the point where I’m on standstill because of my living situation.”

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.