During the holidays, “I worry every day”
Aileen stood patiently in line for almost an hour, holding tightly onto her fidgety four-year-old while the two of them waited patiently to register to receive food and toys at Christmastime.
“I was at ‘The Tent’ last year and it was such a blessing,” she remembers. “People treated me so kind.”
People like Aileen and her five children are the reason Metropolitan Ministries works around the clock at this time of year to give Christmas to local families in need. Many like Aileen’s are barely making it from month to month. Then the holidays roll around and they’re just overwhelmed.
“For me, November and December are difficult months,” she admits. “The kids are home during that time so I worry every day about having enough food in the house.”
After the essentials, there’s not much left
Since her divorce, Aileen has struggled to raise five children on her own. What little she collects from disability usually goes to cover the essentials. By the time she pays rent, and car insurance, and her electric bill, there’s not much left.
“I have health issues too,” she says. “It’s sad. Sometimes, people don’t understand that.”
Despite occasional panic attacks, and the depression she’s been battling for 12 years, Aileen was all smiles the day she signed up to get help at Christmas.
“I still remember Christmas last year. The kids were so happy,” Aileen recalls. “One of my older daughters got a hair dryer and a curling iron. Another got a purse and a necklace. And my son got a toy spaceship.”
Creating memories are what’s most important
How does Aileen feel being able to provide for her children – even if it requires a little extra help from the community?
“It means everything to me,” she says. “It’s not just the toys and what they’re getting. It’s the memories we’re creating together, as a family. I live for these kids. When they’re happy, I’m happy.”