Over the holidays, with the help of generous donors and dedicated volunteers, our Families Doing Time (FDT) program supported 191 children in 87 families by providing toys and necessities through a variety of activities including Toys for Tots, Third Tuesday, and sponsorship. Support ranged from providing toys, to full family Christmas sponsorships that included household necessities, food boxes, and family gifts.
One such sponsored family was the Perry family. Read their story below.
Two days after Thanksgiving, Ms. Perry was cooking dinner for herself and her 11 year old granddaughter, Jo’Asia. Ms. Perry had been Jo’Asia’s guardian since she was a baby and her father, Ms. Perry’s oldest son, had been sent to prison. The day had started like any other day, but in a matter of seconds everything changed. Suddenly, the stove Ms. Perry was cooking on caught fire. The flames spread quickly. One of her other adult sons, ran in to put the fire out. The grease fire was not easy to contain. He yelled for his mother to leave the house with Jo’Asia and call the fire department. He finally managed to extinguish the flames just before the fire department arrived, but by then walls had been destroyed, the stove had melted, and the pantry behind the wall was completely ruined. It was in the ruined pantry that Ms. Perry had been hiding all of her Christmas gifts for her family. They were all destroyed.
It was in the ruined pantry that Ms. Perry had been hiding all of her Christmas gifts for her family. They were all destroyed.
The fire was devastating for the family financially. Already struggling to make ends meet on social security, Ms. Perry didn’t have up-to-date homeowner’s insurance. The cost for repairs went on a credit card, maxed it out in fact. There was nothing left to replace the lost Christmas gifts. She explained to her family, her two adult sons, and her two granddaughters, age 2 and 11, that there would be no Christmas presents this year. Her sons understood of course, and the two year old was too little to care, but Jo’Asia was heartbroken. Every day she asked why there was no Christmas tree yet. Would they get a tree? Ms. Perry didn’t know; she was too focused on getting her home repaired and surviving.
It was Ms. Perry’s sister that told Families Doing Time, director, Charis Blackmon, about the fire. With the help of donors and volunteers, Families Doing Time was able to replace nearly all of the lost gifts, and provided a basket of needed household supplies, and some new clothes donated by Old Navy. Her spirit somewhat lifted, Ms. Perry got a Christmas Tree 3 days before Christmas. Jo’Asia got her Christmas after all.
We’d like to tell you the story ends there, but as with so many of the families we work with, the Perrys face numerous challenges. Before the frigid cold front hit Charlotte, their heating unit went out. Ms. Perry has been warming her home with her new stove and a couple of space heaters. The cost of a new unit, and necessary new duct work is over $7,000. Families Doing Time is working with Ms. Perry and the city of Charlotte to secure her a new unit as soon as possible.
Despite these and other challenges, Ms. Perry’s faith is unwavering. She says when it rains it pours, and she doesn’t understand why so many bad things have been happening, but she just continues to go to church and place her faith in God that help will come and things will turn around.