“I don’t want to add color,” eight-year old Junior explained when he turned in his holiday sheet a few weeks ago.
His drawing stood out because of its bleakness. The other children had drawn candy canes, presents, Santa, and Christmas trees—all brimming with colors reflective of the extra joy you typically see in kids this time of year.
The SAY teacher immediately knew not to push Junior to add anything and instead asked him to explain what the drawing meant to him.
“It’s what our living room used to look like a year ago . . . before everything changed. I wish we could have it back to the way it was” Junior said, trying to smile through his sadness.
It has been a rough year for Junior. This boy’s world changed rapidly in a matter of months because of the long-term illness of his teen sister, who had died just before Thanksgiving. This holiday season, there are painful reminders at every turn for Junior and his younger brother that their sister is gone. His mother puts on a brave face at home, wrapping her sons in as much love and cheer as she can. She is a single parent with a stable job at a local auto-parts store, but beyond the emotional devastation that the loss of a child brings, the medical bills and funeral expenses were more than she could handle. Soon, she could not cover the rent and they became homeless overnight.
Christmas was never extravagant for Junior and his family, but his mother had always managed to make the holidays joyful for her kids. This year, there is no secret wrapping of presents or holiday drawings on refrigerators. The living room that usually had a small tree and coffee table adorned with a modest array of decorations was now a distant memory. For the past few months, Junior, his younger brother, and mother have been sleeping on the living room floor of family friend.
Fortunately, Junior’s mother came to the attention of the school principal and SAY teacher, and we were able to help with some emergency assistance and referrals so that critical needs were met for food and clothing. SAY is also assisting with grant funds to help cover other basic expenses so that Junior’s mother can reach her goal to set aside part of each paycheck to cover the first month’s rent for her own apartment again. Some surprise gifts will also find their way to Junior and his family this week thanks to generous SAY Holiday Hopes donors.
SAY helps thousands of children like Junior every day. Whether it’s a gift for the holidays or support for our work throughout the year, your donations ensure that kids like Junior are not facing tragedy and challenges alone.
If you have already made a recent contribution to SAY San Diego, thank you very much again for making a difference. If you know of others who might want to help this holiday season and beyond, please share this story.
SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY to grow your gift now through January 26, 2020:
CLICK HERE to support critical SAY programs through Champions for Youth. Farmers Insurance will add funds to every dollar of your gift to SAY!