Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need. The series continues daily until Dec. 22.
At first glance, Lulu seems like a typical 10-year-old girl. Popular and playful, Lulu glides her way across a basketball court with the grace and control one would expect from an avid hip-hop dancer. But beneath the sunny surface dwells an inner pain she shares only with her family and closest confidants.
Lulu lives with her grandparents and three younger siblings.
Her father has been in prison since shortly before her youngest sister came into the world.
Her mother, a woman Lulu remembers as a bright and shining person, always ready to laugh and take her kids to the park, died shortly after giving birth prematurely to Nora, who is now 4 years old.
Lulu's two 5-year-old half-sisters, Robin and Rachel, struggle with health issues because of their premature births and weakened immune systems. Lulu has watched each of her siblings fight to stay alive. And, in the wake of losing her mother, Lulu has felt more isolated than most adults can comprehend.
Being part of the Kids Unlimited family has provided some support. But Lulu's family members at home still carry the financial burden of sky-high hospital bills. They struggle with the rising cost of living while dealing with the emotional heartbreak of losing a woman who was not just a mom and daughter, but a direct connection to the core of who her children are.
This family could use gift cards to local grocery stores for food to help meet basic needs. The girls would appreciate gift cards to stores where Kids Unlimited chaperones could help them pick out a few household items, new clothes or maybe even a toy or two. If you can help, please call Beatrice at 541-774-3900.