Gift of Christmas 2020
Sponsor an individual or family through the Gift of Christmas Program and make their season as joyous as yours! As you will read, many of our clients have been devastated by the pandemic. The following are the true stories of clients currently being served at Catholic Charities throughout the Diocese of Joliet.
To sponsor an individual or family this Christmas, simply read through the stories below and click HERE to donate. Or, if you’d prefer to call us with your donation, call Claudia at 815-724-1140. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlina and her three children became homeless earlier this year when they fled from domestic violence. The family stayed in a domestic violence shelter for a few months before entering Catholic Charities’ Horizons Rapid Rehousing Program and moving into their own rental home. When Carlina’s employment was negatively impacted by COVID, she secured a new full-time job. Carlina’s is fearful of her next step – facing her abuser in court to settle their divorce. This organized, kind, and intelligent mother longs for a peaceful life and to purchase a home of her own. A gift of $250 would provide groceries, gas, and clothing for this family that still struggles to recover financially from a very difficult year.
Maria, her husband and their teenage son all work very hard and had always been self-sufficient until this year. Maria became ill late last year and was forced to stop working. Her husband worked two jobs to make up for the lost family income, but his hours were cut dramatically due to the pandemic. Maria’s husband was able to secure two new jobs within walking distance of their home (they don’t have a vehicle). Maria has recovered from her illness and is also looking for a job. They are determined to work hard and provide their son with anything he needs to support him as he works toward high school graduation. This family has simple needs and a gift of $200 would provide shoes, work boots, and new coats.
Earl, 67, and his wife have recently fallen on hard times. They were forced to move out of their apartment on very short notice due to mold and as they waited several weeks for their new apartment to be ready, they experienced homelessness. Earl and his wife stayed at several homeless shelters, but often slept in their car. They were grateful to move into an apartment in October, but were only able to bring items that would fit in the backseat of their car. Earl is also facing medical challenges and is receiving chemotherapy. A gift of $200 will help this couple furnish their apartment so that they have one less worry this Christmas season.
Jelani is a single mother with three young children who arrived at Catholic Charities’ Kathy Paulsen Hope House in the summer of 2019. This mother was devastated that her boyfriend had left the family and she was alone and homeless with young children. Determined to support her family, Jelani poured herself into her job search and quickly obtained full-time employment! Although thrilled to be working, Jelani continued to face challenges with transportation and reliable childcare. Today, Jelani and her family live in a Catholic Charities Transitional Housing unit and continues to work full-time. This family has grown by leaps and bounds and Jelani has gained the confidence to believe in herself and her ability to support her family. They are on-track to successfully exit Transitional Housing next year. A gift of $250 will provide this young family with toys, books, and educational games this Christmas.
Due to financial exploitation at the hands of his family, Kent, 62, experienced homelessness from January through September this year when he moved into a senior living apartment. While homeless, Kent lived in his car. After seeking guidance from Catholic Charities, he was thrilled to move into an apartment. Kent also has many health concerns, but remains upbeat. Your gift of $150 will help purchase furnishings and household items for Kent’s apartment.
Natalia’s family was hit hard when their hours and wages at work were reduced due to the pandemic. The stress and sadness faced by this family increased when Natalia’s mother passed away. Then, the family’s car was impounded and the fine was too large for them to afford. She was feeling hopeless when Natalia reached out to Catholic Charities for help with rent. However, with rental assistance from Catholic Charities, they were able to pay their fees and fines and return to work with their vehicle back. A donation of $250 would give this family the opportunity for a special Christmas dinner and presents under the tree, including winter clothes, toys, and a bicycle.
Janell and her 12 year old son are struggling financially after their income was lost due to COVID. As a nanny, Janell was no longer needed once the family she worked for began working from home. Despite her best efforts to find a new job, Janell has been unsuccessful and now worries that she will lose her apartment. Today, Janell sees a Catholic Charities counselor to help cope with the stress in her life. A gift of $200 will help Janell provide some gifts from Santa this year, including school supplies for e-learning and games.
Tony, 33, is a veteran and single father who was forced to stop working during the pandemic due to health issues. He is a wonderful father who has seamlessly stepped into the role as teacher while his two of his children are e-learning. This close family is struggling to pay rent due to Tony’s job loss. A gift of $250 will provide Christmas gifts for this family.
Elizabeth is single parent doing her best to support her six children, two of whom have special needs. She receives no child support because her ex-husband is incarcerated. Elizabeth has a minimum wage part-time job, but has needed to cut back on her hours to help her children who are e-learning from home. Without any family nearby, Elizabeth feel tremendous pressure and responsibility. A $350 donation will provide warm winter clothing, new shoes, school supplies, and new glasses for two of her children.
Marcus and April, both in their 50’s, were once homeowners and business owners in DuPage County. The couple had a wonderful life raising six children. Then, April broke her back and could no longer work. Two years ago, Marcus began having medical complications of his own, including a stroke and frequent seizures. The couple lost their home and business due to their medical challenges. They were sleeping in their car over the summer when they connected with Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities paid for a hotel room for shelter so Marcus and April could focus on their health. They are working with their case manager to transition into an apartment. Both report that their health is much improved. A gift of $200 will help this couple purchase items for their apartment (they lost everything when they became homeless).
Amy is struggling to afford her bills, take care of her elderly parents, and find a job to support her family. This single mother of a 13 year old girl worked in the service industry until the business where she worked was permanently closed due to COVID. As the caretaker for her parents, Amy also worries about finding a job where she will have very minimal exposure to the public – she wants to keep her parents safe from the virus. This family is very close and have a strong faith. Amy sees a counselor with Catholic Charities to help her cope with stress and navigate this difficult time. A $200 donation will provide clothing, boots, and personal items for Amy and her daughter.
Gigi, 68, lives in a rural area with no phone or access to transportation. She has a degenerative disease and was in poor condition when she connected with Catholic Charities this year. In fact, when her case manager visited her home, Gigi said that she hadn’t seen another person in at least a month prior. She had been rationing her food and had run out of food four days before her case manager arrived. Gigi cried tears of joy when she received the visit, saying that loneliness and isolation were very difficult for her. She is now working with Catholic Charities’ Aging and Disability Services to improve her situation. Gigi needs so much, but a gift of $150 will provide this kind and resilient woman with food, a radio, warm clothing, hygiene items, and other basics.
Norman, 81, had a stroke in May which limited his mobility and increased his needs. For a while, Norman’s wife worked to support the couple and his daughter cared for him. Unfortunately, Norman’s wife has been out of work due to COVID-related layoffs. They quickly fell behind on their bills. After connecting with Catholic Charities, Norman began receiving in-home services and assistance with catching up on bills. Through their challenges, this family remains close and cares deeply for one another. A gift of $200 will provide Norman and his with gift cards for groceries.
Tara, 37, is a veteran who participates in Catholic Charities SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families) Program. She is a single parent who is currently homeless with her three children. Tara strives to bring a sense of normalcy to her children’s lives despite their challenging circumstances. She has a big heart and even raised a child (who is now 20 years old) who was in a bad situation. Tara always tries to help others, particularly other veterans. A gift of $200 will provide home goods to this family as they prepare to move into a home after experiencing homelessness.
Kim and her husband are both veterans. They share three young children, two of whom are twins. Kim has a frontline medical job during the pandemic. Unfortunately, her husband lost his job due to the pandemic and he now stays home to help their children with e-learning. The family is struggling to pay rent on one income. A gift of $250 will provide this young family with groceries and household items.
Michelle is a single mother of two young children. For years, Michelle struggled to leave her abusive partner knowing that she would have nowhere to go. However, she secured a full-time job at a fast food restaurant and rented a small home to start a new life with her children. Michelle struggles to make ends meet and sometimes delivers food after she’s done at her full-time job to try to earn extra money. She also has PTSD and anxiety from her past abuse and sees a Catholic Charities’ counselor for help. A gift of $200 would provide gifts for Michelle’s children to open on Christmas morning.
Amahle, 22, is a single mother with a one year old daughter. She was physically and emotionally abused by her family while she grew up. Today, Amahle and her baby are staying at Catholic Charities Kathy Paulsen Hope House after a period of homelessness. The small family had bounced around staying with family when they could, but often sleeping outdoors when they had nowhere else to stay. Amahle wants to model a different lifestyle for her young daughter. Her motivation helped Amahle earn a full-time job, childcare for her daughter at a reputable facility, paid off driving tickets, and reinstated her driver’s license. This mother is well on her way to self-sufficiency! A $200 would provide a warm winter coat for the baby and household items for their first apartment!
Luis, 26, has been homeless for much of the time since he graduated high school. Although he has always worked, Luis has never been able to rent an apartment due to his low income, lack of credit, and lack of rental history. In February, Luis entered Catholic Charities’ Kathy Paulsen Hope House after a year of homelessness. The warehouse where he worked shut down for more than a month in the spring due to the pandemic. When his job resumed, Catholic Charities found a landlord who agreed to rent Luis his first apartment. Luis is ecstatic to be living independently after so many years. A gift of $150 will help Luis purchase some of the items on his wish list: a couch, desk, chair, lamp, and pillows.
Robyn, 39, is a single mother with three young children. Robyn’s family recently moved into Catholic Charities’ Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program after seven months staying in a homeless shelter. While staying at the shelter, Robyn secured a full-time job. This strong and ambitious mother is very grateful for the assistance she receives from Catholic Charities. Robyn is well on her way to self-sufficiency. A gift of $250 will help Robyn provide a few items on her children’s Christmas lists, like games, bikes, and warm winter outerwear.
Cheri, 32, became homeless at Christmastime last year with her young son and daughter after she was let go from her job. This was Cheri’s first experience with homelessness and it was a struggle emotionally, physically, and financially. As she worked toward self-sufficiency, COVID-19 started and it was nearly impossible to find work. In the spring, Cheri’s family was selected to participant in Catholic Charities’ Tenant Based Rental Assistance program, and with the financial support and case management of the program was able to move her family into their own apartment. Her family is now much safer, but the family still has serious challenges. Cheri’s 10 year-old son has mental health issues which are exacerbated by e-learning and feeling isolated at home. Cheri continues to work hard and has made great progress in a short time. Her next goal is toto save enough money to buy a car and take her children on their first vacation. A gift of $200 will help Cheri provide a great first Christmas in their new apartment with gifts like dolls, a dollhouse, NERF toys, arts and crafts materials, and a basketball hoop.
Valentina, her husband, and their 20-year-old daughter moved to the U.S. from Columbia several years ago. This couple has worked very hard to provide for themselves and to support their daughter while she works toward her college degree. Over the summer, Valentina’s husband was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer and, sadly, passed away within a few weeks of his diagnosis. Today, Valentina is back at work to support her family, but this has been a truly devastating year. A gift of $200 would provide clothing and a computer for Valentina’s daughter to use for college.
Camila, 44, and her mother, 67, arrived in the U.S. from Guatemala 7 years ago seeking asylum due to persecution in their home country. Their court date to review their application is next summer. During this long process, Camila has worked hard to take care of herself and her mother. Her mother is in very poor health (lung cancer and diabetes) and when Camila tested positive for COVID-19, the pair had to spend weeks apart. This year has been difficult and complicated for Camila and her mother. A gift of $200 will help Camila pay for her mother’s prescription medication, winter coats, and boots.
Andrew is a hard-working, single, divorced father to a teenage daughter and also cares for his mother. The three share a home and Andrew works a full-time job, but struggles to keep up with medical expenses and other financial responsibilities which impacts his overall emotional state and functioning. He sees a Catholic Charities counselor to work through this stress. Andrew is especially worried about the holidays this year. It’s a financial stretch to pay the bills and he wants to be sure that his mother and daughter have a bright Christmas. A gift of $200 would purchase clothing for this family as well as gas cards to help Andrew as he takes his mother to her medical appointments.
Angelique is a single mother who is expecting her second child just after Christmas. When the pandemic began, Angelique was laid off from her job and was unemployed until recently. During her period of unemployment, she fell behind on some of her bills. Now, Angelique is working hard to catch up before her new baby arrives. A gift of $200 will provide clothing and outerwear for winter.
David, 41, is battling cancer, but continues to work in order to support his family. Reduced work hours have had a devastating impact on the family’s finances. They struggle to pay bills and visit food pantries. The parents have two children who participate in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. They take every opportunity to help at school and greatly appreciate the education that their children receive. A $200 donation will provide diapers, coats, and boots for this family.
Christine is a single parent raising her six children without any support from the father. Without any family living locally, she does everything on her own. When severe storms came through the area last spring, Christine’s rental home sustained series flood damage forcing the family to leave quickly. It has been a difficult year for this large family. A gift of $350 will provide clothing, housewares, and warm blankets for the winter.
Antonio and his wife have six children. Earlier this year, Antonio became gravely ill with COVID-19 and required several weeks in the hospital. During his recovery, the family was left without an income. Although Antonio has returned to work, his body has not fully recovered from COVID. A gift of $350 will provide winter clothing and shoes for this struggling family.
Shawntel is a single parent with two young sons, one of whom is in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. This busy mother juggles working from home, doing her own school work, helping her first grader with e-learning, and caring for her younger son. Shawntel has needed to access food banks to feed her family this year. Just when she was starting to stabilize financially, Shawntel needed to pay for emergency car repairs. A gift of $200 will help provide Christmas gifts for the boys and groceries for this family.
Jeffrey, 4, is a charming and chatty child in Catholic Charities Head Start Program. Until recently, he was living in a motel with his mother and four siblings. Thankfully, the family now has a home, but they don’t have any furniture or appliances after experiencing homelessness. A gift of $300 will provide household items and winter coats for Jeffrey’s family.
Everyone who knows Carmen’s family adores them. She is a single mother with three children, one of whom is in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. Carmen has spent much of 2020 furloughed from her job (due to the pandemic) and only recently returned. Now, Carmen is working to catch up on her bills. This strong and loving mother believes that not speaking English is an obstacle standing in the way of having a better job. Carmen has set the goal of learning English in order to help her family. A gift of $250 will provide clothing, diapers, and warm blankets for winter.
When Diamond, 4, was just six months old, her mother passed away. She has been living with her wonderful grandmother who does everything possible to make Diamond’s life comfortable and normal. Diamond’s grandmother is unable to work due to health challenges. This family was uprooted over the summer when a storm destroyed their rental home. A gift of $200 will purchase new clothes for Diamond, who is growing quickly!
Robert, 23, arrived at Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center in January with his twin brother and their mother. The family needed three incomes to afford housing and when Robert’s brother lost his job, they became homeless. While staying at Daybreak, Robert found full-time employment, opened a bank account, and began saving money. Even better, Robert will be moving into an apartment at the end of this year. He is so excited to see the light at the end of this period of darkness in his life. A $150 will help Robert set up his new apartment with lamps, towels and other household items… and buy him a bottle of cologne, which he says he has missed while homeless.
Emely, 3, emigrated with her family from El Salvador in search of a better life. The youngest of four children, Emely’s family adores her and considers her a great blessing. She has Down Syndrome, a heart murmur, liver issues, and other health concerns. Little Emely has endured several surgeries in her young life. Her parents don’t speak English and have not been able to secure good jobs in the U.S. despite professional backgrounds in their home country. A gift of $300 will help provide Christmas gifts for Emely and her loving and hard-working family.
Sofia is a single mother who cares for her 60-year-old father in addition to her own five-year-old daughter. Sofia’s father needs care due to serious medical conditions. Although Sofia works, her father’s medication is so expensive that the family often goes without basic items in order to pay for the prescriptions. Sofia is worried that she won’t be able to afford any gifts for her daughter this Christmas. A donation of $200 will ensure that there are clothes, shoes, toys, and a coat under the tree this year.
Lucia, 45, has endured terrible tragedy this year. All members of her multi-generational household were diagnosed with COVID-19. When Lucia’s infant granddaughter passed away in the home, her own young children were removed from the household pending an investigation of the death. Once it was determined that the child passed away from complications of COVID-19 and sudden infant death syndrome, Lucia’s children were returned to her. The pain and grief of losing a grandchild and being temporarily separated from her children has taken a toll. Lucia cries often, but remains focused on her goals: finishing her G.E.D, learning more English, and finding a job. In the meantime, she is busy helping her children with e-learning. Your $200 donation will help Lucia provide clothing, shoes, and coats for her family this winter.
Edward, 60, has been homeless since 1980’s. To escape an abusive environment when he was young, Edward joined the circus. However, he didn’t earn enough to support himself and became homeless. For many years, Edward lived in a garage that belonged to a friend. Last year, he was accepted into Catholic Charities’ New Beginnings Program for chronically homeless men and moved into a studio apartment of his own. A gift of $150 will provide clothing and work boots for Edward.
Danielle, 24, is a new mom who is raising her son by herself. Although she tried to find a job, she found that jobs were scarce due to the pandemic. Danielle is a great support to her extended family and is known for her loving and caring spirit. She is devoted to her baby boy and has a positive outlook for the future. A gift of $200 will provide clothing and developmental toys for the baby.
Dee, 25, and her husband moved their young family to the suburbs this year in an attempt to escape the daily violence they witnessed in Chicago. This couple has a two-year-old son and are expecting a new baby at Christmas. Dee’s pregnancy has been difficult with trips to the hospital, painful contractions, and bedrest starting at 15 weeks. She participates in Catholic Charities’ Doula Program and has been very active in the program’s virtual visits and group activities. A gift of $250 will help this family purchase items for their new baby and toys for their toddler.
Teresa and Angel’s family has been hit hard by the pandemic. The family participates in Catholic Charities’ Doula Program and recently welcomed a baby boy. The baby only has one kidney and requires close monitoring and may need surgery. Shortly after the baby was born, Angel contracted COVID-19 at work and the virus quickly spread through the house impacting each member of the family. Thankfully, the family has recovered and Angel has returned to work. A gift of $300 will provide Christmas gifts for this family that has had such a difficult year.
Louis, 49, first experienced homelessness in 1999. Alcoholism resulted in Louis losing his job and eventually his home. He was kicked out of many homeless shelters over the years. However, things began to change ten years ago when Louis was accepted into Catholic Charities’ New Beginnings Program for chronically homeless men. Now, he lives in a studio apartment and works hard to improve and maintain his physical and mental health. Louis has also made great progress recovering from his substance abuse issues. A gift of $150 will provide Louis with new winter clothing and shoes.
Eva and Felix participated in Catholic Charities’ Doula Program this year as they prepared for the birth of their fourth child. Felix works in a warehouse and was unable to work during a period of time when the business was closed due to COVID-19. Despite hardships, the family experienced great joy when their healthy baby girl was born. A $350 donation will provide helpful items for e-learning, like school supplies, desks, and study dividers.
Amanda and her four children became homeless in 2019 when her family was evicted from their apartment. They lived in motel rooms and their car until finding Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center and eventually moved into an apartment with assistance. The family has endured extensive trauma including abuse. Amanda participates in Catholic Charities’ Expectant Mothers Program as she prepares for her fifth child to arrive just before Christmas. Amanda acknowledges that she has a tough road ahead of her, but she’s determined to support her family and provide help to cope with the trauma they have all experienced. A $300 donation will provide winter clothes, diapers for the baby, and a table for the family to share meals together.
Raymond, 64, has been homeless for seven years. When he arrived at Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center, he began working to improve his health, financial, and housing situations. Last year, Raymond entered Catholic Charities’ New Beginnings housing program for chronically homeless men. He is so grateful to have a safe place to call home after living on the streets and often not sleeping at all. Raymond describes the years he was homeless as scary, traumatic, and exhausting. A $150 donation will provide Raymond with a small television for his studio apartment.
Letty, 24, had a difficult pregnancy this year. She was very sick, unable to work, and did not have medical insurance for care. Letty and her husband also had temporary legal custody of four nieces and nephews – very tight living quarters with eight people and just two small bedrooms. Four months ago, Letty gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Her nieces and nephews were able to safely return to their home and Letty’s family moved into an apartment with more space. Unfortunately, Letty is experiencing postpartum depression. However, this mother is resilient, has a positive outlook, and a strong faith in God. A gift of $300 will provide winter clothing, bed linens, and pots and pans.
Paul arrived at Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center homeless shelter when he had nowhere else to turn. Paul has a developmental disability which made him vulnerable to financial abuse from a family member. When he arrived at Daybreak, Paul’s bank account had been completely depleted. With help from Catholic Charities, Paul lives independently for the first time. He is happy and excited to be on his own. A $150 donation will provide Paul with winter clothing and boots.
Shana, 22, is a loving mother who lives with her three young children in a low-income public housing complex. Shana goes to food pantries to feed her children and resale shops to ensure that they have clothes to wear. Last summer, Shana welcomed a new baby who was premature and required two surgeries as a newborn. Today, the baby is healthy and thriving! Shana’s case manager describes her as “one of the strongest young ladies” she has every met! A gift of $250 will provide bedding, towels, and clothing for Shana’s family.
Desiree is a mother of four children who participates in Catholic Charities’ Expectant Mothers Program. The family has ensured domestic violence and homelessness. Just as Desiree was starting to rebuild her life and had secured a job at a fast-food restaurant, the pandemic hit and she was laid-off. The family is often without food and must ask family and friends for help to avoid going hungry. A gift of $300 will provide clothing and shoes for the children, who are growing very quickly!
Alisha is a single mother of a four-year-old who participates in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. Although they recently moved into their own apartment, without transportation, Alisha struggles to commute to work and even to the store. This young mother dreams of going to trade school someday to help support her family. A gift of $200 will purchase gift cards for transportation to help Alisha get to work and take her child to school.
Neisha, 22, is a single mother who welcomed her third child in November. This family lives in a one-bedroom apartment and Neisha chooses to sleep in the living room to allow her children to have their own space. She is taking classes to earn her G.E.D. and hopes to provide a better life for her family. A $250 donation would provide diapers/wipes (two infants in diapers!) for Neisha’s family in addition to clothing.
Kayla is a young single mother with two small children. During the pandemic, she has been working from home and struggling to juggle work and caring for her newborn baby. Kayla is a great mother who values education for her children and has her toddler enrolled in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. A gift of $200 will provide baby formula and diapers for Kayla’s new baby.
Sarah is a single mother of three children who is highly organized and works very hard to make ends meet. Recently divorced, Sarah says that one of her top priorities is maintaining a healthy relationship with her ex-husband to help maintain a close bond between him and their children. A gift of $250 will help this family have gifts under the tree this Christmas.
Max, 5, and his mother live with his grandparents and an aunt. His aunt can be violent and has attacked his mother on several occasions. Max’s mother is heartbroken to see the impact that this environment is having on her son. She is determined to move within the next few months. Max’s mother has a full-time job and is working hard to save money to afford an apartment. They both look forward to having a safe and comfortable home. A gift of $200 will provide a car seat, winter boots, and warm clothing for little Max.
Fayola, 4, is the youngest of five children and participates in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. A few years ago, the family experienced homelessness and entered a Catholic Charities program to move into an apartment. The family’s vehicle has a broken window covered by a plastic bag and the car frequently breaks down. A gift of $350 will provide winter clothing, coats, and boots for the children in this large family.
Pearl and her husband welcomed their third child in October. The mother had to stop working in August due to a high-risk pregnancy, which has impacted the family financially. Pearl’s husband also works, but his income doesn’t cover all of the family’s expenses. This loving couple are great parents who are very involved in every aspect of their children’s lives. A gift of $250 will provide diapers, clothing, and art supplies for the children.
Chelsea has faced many challenges since the birth to her son last December. The baby became very ill and required emergency surgery. Shortly thereafter, Chelsea’s husband unexpectedly left the family. For income, Chelsea babysat for several children in her home, but she was unable to continue during COVID shutdowns. Although she’s had a difficult year, Chelsea hasn’t given up. She’s looking for work and committed to supporting her family. A gift of $250 will provide bunk beds for this family to create a bit of space in the cramped bedroom space.
Maya, 20, has overcome so much this year! This mother of three spent time homeless, but now has a place to call home. Maya has a toddler in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program and is always eager to participate in his education. A gift of $250 will provide clothing and diapers for this young family.
Aubrey is a single mother whose income has decreased recently and is having trouble affording her bills. Sometimes she even struggles to pay for basic need items, like diapers for her baby. Despite their challenges, Aubrey makes sure that the family eats dinner together and prays together daily. A gift of $250 will provide diapers, wipes, and winter clothing for Aubrey’s children.
Alejandra, 41, and her husband recently separated and she is now responsible for supporting her three children alone. She is currently in a stressful transitional period as she tries to find an affordable divorce attorney and secure employment. Alejandra was relieved when she recently secured an apartment for her family within the children’s school district. A $250 donation will provide groceries, furniture for the new apartment, and clothing for Alejandra’s three growing children.
Juana, 20, is a wonderful mother to her 8-month-old son. She’s currently living with her parents, but wants to move out once she has a job. However, Juana’s mother does not support her getting a job and insists that she stay home with the baby instead of work. Juana participates in Catholic Charities’ Healthy Families Illinois program and has completed parenting classes through the Agency. Despite having very limited resources, this mother finds creative ways to play with her sweet baby. A gift of $200 will provide basic feeding items that Juana needs for her baby, including a high chair, bibs, bowls, cups, and plates.
Amelia, 28, is a wonderful mother who recently escaped from an abusive marriage. She left behind nearly all of her possessions. Now, Amelia and her 11-month-old son are living with Amelia’s mother and she is working at a home daycare. Her case manager says that she is always smiling and maintains a beautiful spirit despite her struggles. Amelia wants to attend college to earn a degree in business. In the meantime, her short-term goal is to become self-sufficient in an apartment with her son. A gift of $200 will help replenish some of the items that Amelia and her son lost when they left home.
Mercedes and her husband have two small children. She stays at home while her husband works full-time. When the family welcomed their daughter three years ago, they learned that she has many severe health issues, including a serious heart condition which requires 24/7 care. The love in this family is extraordinary. Recently, Mercedes enrolled in classes to learn English and hopes to find a full-time job once her daughter is old enough to attend school. A $250 donation will provide this family with a laptop or tablet for the toddler’s virtual therapy sessions during the pandemic.
Ana Maria and her four children have overcome a period of homelessness this year, but still struggle financially. After paying for basic need items like groceries and personal care items, Ana Maria often doesn’t have any money left to pay her utility bills. She often feels lost without a job or a car. Without a GED it is challenging to find work. Ana Maria is expecting her fifth child and has been quite sick from the pregnancy. Despite these challenges, Ana Maria remains optimistic, determined, and grateful for the help she receives from Catholic Charities. A gift of $250 will provide diapers for the babies and learning toys for all of the children.
Rory, 4, loves attending school in Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program! This little boy and his family have had a year of tragedy. Earlier this year, Rory’s dear grandfather passed away. One month ago, Rory’s newborn baby sister also passed. This family is strong and very involved in the Head Start Program. A gift of $200 will provide Christmas presents for this young family that has lost so much this year.
Carlos and Lupe moved to the U.S. to provide a better future for their children. Carlos is a cook at two restaurants to provide for his family working double-shifts. Lupe looks forward to working again when their children are a bit older. Their three young children are bright and motivated. This couple prioritizes education and the children love attending school – even over Zoom during the pandemic! A gift of $250 will help provide a tablet or laptop for e-learning, a coffee maker, and a stove.
Gabriella and Jesus immigrated with their family to the U.S. for a better future. Jesus has a long commute each day to his job in home remodeling. Gabriella would like to work, but must stay home to support her children’s e-learning during the pandemic. Both parents work hard to improve the lives of their children by showing the importance of education and hard work. A gift of $250 will provide this family with a laptop or tablet for e-learning and a blender.
Imani, 25, is expecting her third child at Christmastime. This busy single mother works full-time and her children attend Catholic Charities’ Head Start Program. This family has established routines at home which have helped with behavior and ensured that they are always on-time for school and work. Once the new baby arrives, Imani would like to return to school A gift of $250 will provide winter coats, e-learning educational supplies, and basic items for the new baby (clothing, crib, car seat, formula, bottles).
Amira, 29, emigrated from Pakistan to the U.S. last year with her husband and two young sons, but quickly became homeless when she escaped from domestic violence. Not knowing anyone locally, Amira doesn’t have much support. She is looking for a job that she can walk to because she doesn’t have a vehicle. A gift of $200 will purchase items for this family that needs so much, including a computer or tablet for e-learning, desk, chair, clothing, shows, diapers, baby food, and toys.
Naomi, 49, became homeless at the beginning of 2020. She had worked as a waitress for more than a decade and always struggled to make ends meet. When she was diagnosed with serious health issues, she was unable to continue paying her bills and lost everything. While staying at Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center Naomi lost her job due to the pandemic. Naomi was able to move into an apartment with assistance and is relieved to put this chapter of her life behind her. A gift of $150 will provide household items to replace what she lost while homeless.
Melissa’s brother dropped her off at Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center homeless shelter when he would no longer allow her to stay with him. She is unemployed due to depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Melissa was determined to turn her life around and began counseling to help with her mental health and money management. Melissa has recently moved into an apartment with assistance and is enjoying living on her own in a safe environment as she continues to work hard. A gift of $150 will provide household items and winter clothing for Melissa.
Carl and Linda have struggled with homelessness for many years due to substance abuse and criminal backgrounds. They have been evicted from several apartments, which makes it very hard for them to rent. Carl and Linda both have medical problems and are ready to maintain sobriety and accept help. Today, the couple is working with a county program to expunge their criminal histories. They are eager for a fresh start with stable housing and better health. A gift of $200 will provide clothing, boots, and a purse for this hard-working couple.
Marie is a single mother of a seven-month-old son. She has stayed at Catholic Charities’ Daybreak Center homeless shelter on-and-off for many years. Until recently, Marie always refused to accept any help. Her son’s father passed away earlier this year leaving her without any financial support. They were able to move into an apartment which gives Marie the opportunity to work on her other issues, including her mental health. She is looking for work and gratefully accepts any help that is offered along the path to self-sufficiency. A $200 donation will provide toys for the baby and household items.
Eve, 41, has struggled with alcohol abuse and her mental health for many years. As a result of these challenges, Eve has strained relationships with family and friends. Without a support system, she became homeless. Today, Eve has an apartment through Catholic Charities’ Permanent Supportive Housing Program and has been able to maintain her sobriety, address mental health concerns, and re-build relationships. Eve’s next goals are to gain employment and regain custody of her daughter. A $150 donation will help provide household items for Eve’s apartment and Christmas gifts for her daughter.
Jessica is a single mother of two teenagers who suffered significant injuries from her abuser several years ago. Although she had a good job in the medical field, she is no longer able to work due to her injuries and most likely will never be able to return. The family became homeless over the summer and stayed in a motel before entering Catholic Charities’ Transitional Housing Program. Today, Jessica is trying to find a job she can do from home and is grateful for the help her children have offered as she recovers. This family shares an old laptop, which isn’t working well now that school is remote-learning. A gift of $200 would help this family afford a new laptop that works well for school.
Nancy, 62, is a kind woman who has experienced great hardship this year. She had a hip replacement which became infected and has resulted in multiple hospitalizations, another surgery, and nursing home stays for rehabilitation. Nancy continues to have series medical challenges related to her hip replacement. She remains upbeat and optimistic through her trials. A gift of $150 would provide this strong and resilient woman with groceries this winter.
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Once enough donations have been received to satisfy the needs of all clients listed, additional donations will go to our Annual Christmas Appeal where every client Catholic Charities serves will be taken care of year round. May God Bless you and your family.