Household items, clothing lighten vulnerable families’ burdens
Poverty is just one challenge that many Kids Unlimited families navigate daily. The holidays intensify the impacts of addiction, child foster care and personal tragedy.
“It also creates a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress; it compounds depression … just for families who are struggling to keep their heads up,” said Tom Cole, KU founder and CEO.
Easing financial and emotional burdens at Thanksgiving, KU furnishes fixings for about 100 family feasts. Stuffing, sweet potatoes, a pie and a gift card for protein — turkey or ham — are portioned to serve four to six people. Bags filled with other groceries help to bridge kids’ nutritional gap over winter break.
“Food is a high, high need,” said KU office manager Michelle Hull.
Clothing, household items and more spread holiday joy to KU’s most vulnerable families, such as a single mom who worked with Oregon Department of Human Services to get her children out of foster care yet still co-parents with the former foster family. A single dad who battles substance use disorder is successfully parenting his five children, including two students at Kids Unlimited Academy, said Hull. KU supports “heavy-souled” teens carrying weights they never should at their age, said Cole.
“It’s really important for us to normalize their adolescence in some ways.”
The story that most moves Hull this year is of a family grieving their husband, father and primary wage earner. The man died less than two months after his first son was born.
Since the man’s accidental death in March, his wife and children have moved three times, each time farther from the kids’ school and mother’s job in Medford. Gas cards would ease the financial strain on this newly single mother, who rents a low-income apartment in Talent. Cozy bedding, warm clothing and some toys would help to bring the three kids some comfort during the first holidays they’ve known without their father.
“It’s been really difficult for her children — you can only imagine,” said Yuritzi Carlos, KU human resources generalist, translator and interpreter.
A student in KU’s pre-K program, the younger daughter has exhibited behavioral outbursts and conflicts with classmates since her father’s death.
“Everything revolved around her dad,” said Carlos, translating the 30-year-old mother’s narrative from Spanish.
The mother’s job in food service doesn’t come close to the father’s earnings from working in construction. After one of his shifts, to which he carpooled with co-workers from the Marshalls parking lot in Medford, the 31-year-old father was found dead in his car of an overdose. His widow said she never would have believed the cause was fentanyl if local authorities hadn’t told her.
“You’re talking about a great father, a good husband,” said Carlos, translating the mother’s insistence that she never had reason to suspect her husband of abusing controlled substances.
The family has lived for nearly a decade in Southern Oregon after immigrating from Mexico. The mother said she wants to speak out about the region’s fentanyl scourge in hopes of helping to save someone’s life and educating kids about the deadly drug.
Her two girls, 5 and 8, need twin-size sheets and bedding, clothing in children’s sizes 5/6 and 9/10 and tennis shoes in kids sizes 2 and 13. Both girls love Barbie dolls and Barbie-themed items. Their Christmas wish is for Santa to bring them a tablet for games and learning apps.
Their 9-month-old brother needs disposable diapers and clothing in sizes 18 months to 2T. He would enjoy age-appropriate educational toys, puzzles and books.
Reluctant to ask for anything for herself, the mother, who wears glasses, said she needs an eye exam.
To help this family, return our donation form or call KU at 541-774-3900.