Over the next week, the Tallahassee Democrat is partnering with Catholic Charities on the Christmas Connection to spotlight local families who need help this Christmas. Here's how you can help.
CASE #245: Living in a camper after fire
This single mother and her five children are living in a camper since they lost their home in a fire six months ago. The mother is trying to find a home she can afford on her wages, but has not been successful.
Critical items: Food, toiletries, cleaning supplies.
Son, Age 7: Remote control toy, bike and helmet, football, FSU items.
Daughter, Age 8: Baby doll, bike and helmet, arts and crafts
Daughter, Age 16: Bath/Beauty products, teen jewelry/accessories, yoga mat, tablet
Son, Age14: Tablet, sports equipment (basketball), gift card for bookstore
Daughter, Age 11: Puzzles, board games, books or gift card for books
CASE #274: Apartment fire dislocates family
This family recently suffered an apartment fire and needs to relocate. The mother is a single parent, caring for her four children and a nephew. Her youngest son was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at 5 months of age. He has had several surgeries and will require more. The mother worked as a correctional officer but had to resign to care for her son. She now works fulltime work in retail and home health care.
Critical items: Pots and pans, kitchen supplies, children’s clothing, pull-up diapers, size 5; gift cards for food/gas; help with relocation expenses, three king-size blankets
Son, Age 1: Action figures, Ride ons and helmet, likes Sponge Bob and PJ Mask
Son, Age 2: Ride ons and helmet
Daughter, Age 4: Baby doll, science toys, drawing supplies
Daughter, Age 6: Puzzles, Legos, fidget toys, art supplies, LeapFrog
Daughter, Age 9: Teen jewelry/accessories, books, diary, tablet
CASE #276: Family of six with illness
This entire family of six tested positive for COVID in July. They were out of work for three to four week with the father in the hospital for seven days in August. The mother was fired from a private home-health job she had caring for a special needs client. By the time the father was able to return to work, his hours were cut to 25 or fewer/week. The oldest son was receiving disability benefits, but those recently ended. One family member has sickle cell trait and another has the sickle cell disease. Prior to being affected by COVID, this family was stable.
Critical items: Five queen blankets.
Father, Age 32: Towels, glassware, gardening tools
Mother, Age 52: Heater, queen electric blanket, silverware
Daughter, Age 9: Tablet, Bluetooth speaker, baby dolls, art supplies
Son, Age 8: Anything with dinosaurs, toy trucks, Bluetooth speaker, tablet
Other male household member, Age 28: Queen Electric blanket, fan, headphones
CASE #288: Elderly grandmother
Elderly grandmother requests help for her grandchildren who she is raising after her daughter died. She is recovering from COVID. She is doing her best financially by working odd jobs.
Critical items: Food, toiletries, cleaning supplies
Grandmother, Age 66: Heater, full comforter, gift card
Grandson, Age 5: Remote-control toy, learning toys
Grandson, Age 11: Teen jewelry/accessories, video games, Crocs size 8
Grandson, Age 12: Board games, Teen jewelry/accessories, video games, gift card
Grandson, Age 16: Teen jewelry/accessories, Bluetooth speaker, video games, gift card
CASE #293: Young mother with cancer
This 25-year-old mother is raising her daughter (almost 2). The mother was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and has started chemo and radiation treatments in Gainesville. She travels to Gainesville on Mondays and returns for the weekend. She does have support from her mother and grandmother, but Christmas support would be appreciated.
Critical items: Toiletries, cleaning supplies, diapers, 3T pull-ups
Mother, Age 25: King comforter and sheets, tablet, electric fryer
Daughter, Age 1 (2 in January): Kitchen/Cooking toy set, learning toy, Anything Minnie Mouse or CocoMelon
How to help
Donate in person: Drop off donated items at the Christmas Connection warehouse at 2990-2 Apalachee Parkway, next to the Supervisor of Elections office. The warehouse is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Days of operation are through Dec. 20. Deadline for donated items is Dec. 15. Donations can also be dropped off at Morningstar Storage, 5600 Roanoke Trail, Tallahassee. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Wish List: Shop early and shop easy with the Christmas Connection Amazon wish list. You can view the wish list at the website TheChristmasConnection.org.
Blanket Day: Drop off new blankets and heaters from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Apalachee Parkway location. A volunteer will help you unload your car.
Donate online or by mail: Make a monetary donation online at TheChristmasConnection.org or send a check to Christmas Connection, P.O. Box 20165, Tallahassee, FL 32316.
Adopt a family: Complete a brief request form on the website and a family in need will be assigned to you by the volunteer adoption coordinator. All families are referred to us from social service organizations in the Big Bend area.
Host a Christmas Connection collection drive or holiday party: Gather people from your office, school, church, sports team, family or friends and host a party or collection drive to benefit neighbors in need. You can sign up online on the website and then collect gift items, gift cards and/or monetary donations, which can be brought to the collection site during regular operating hours.
Volunteer: You can sign up on the website to donate your time and talents. Due to COVID, there is a limit on how many people can volunteer at one time.
Most needed items this year: Bikes, gift cards, blankets, towels, teenage gifts, heaters (electric/space), housewares, diapers and nonperishable foods. All donations must be new.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Christmas Connection cases 2021, day 5: Fires devastate two families