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 Wednesday, Dec. 22.
Toys, blankets and towels will help this mom and her two young children make it through the holidays and beyond.
In the beginning, Maria thought she'd found a good life partner. But soon after their first child was born, her husband began to threaten and then physically abuse her. One night he pushed Maria out of the car while it was moving, breaking her arm.
Maria and the children, Ryan and Rebecca, now 6 and 4 respectively, left their home three times over several years, but each time she felt driven to return because she could not make rent, pay bills and buy food, even with state support.
The day the children saw their father hit Maria over the head with a wooden chair was the last straw. Maria took the children, ran to a friend's house, and called HelpLine, a program of Community Works. HelpLine put her in touch with advocates at Dunn House.
Marie and her children stayed at Dunn House for several weeks. Community Works staff helped Maria obtain a restraining order against her husband, begin divorce proceedings, find childcare assistance, and search for affordable housing. The three are in the process of moving into their own apartment.
They hope this is the first of many happy Christmases. But holiday gifts are not in their budget. Ryan likes to sketch and could use blank sketch books and pencils. He also loves anything to do with trains. Rebecca likes Legos and anything connected with horses. Maria is still hoping for basic needs like new blankets for a double bed and twin beds, as well as new towels and small rugs.
To help this family, call Gerry at Community Works, 541-779-2393, ext. 222.