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.
Ever since the 7-year-old boy, his mother and brothers escaped domestic violence, their refuge is a Medford hotel with few belongings to ease their existence.
The emotional turmoil of witnessing abuse — and the stress of his family's move — interfered with the boy's schoolwork and ability to make friends at VIBES Public Charter School in Medford, where he enrolled in August.
Little realizing they held the key to unlocking the boy's potential, VIBES staff have played Legos with him every day.
The simple toy became the boy's refuge, where he was in control and could build anew after witnessing the collapse of so much in life. Bridging these chasms also showed the boy how to interact with other kids, express his creativity and build self-esteem by maintaining the Lego set.
It's little wonder the boy would love nothing more this holiday than a Lego set of his own. Toys also would delight his 4- and 5-year-old brothers. The entire family could use blankets, warm clothes and gift cards to purchase basic household items.
While the boys' mother works hard to find more secure housing for her family and make ends meet, her oldest son makes his second home at VIBES, operated by Kids Unlimited, a free after-school program for low-income children in Medford. The boy often spends up to 12 hours per day at the facility, said Kids Unlimited Executive Director Tom Cole.
VIBES is an acronym for Vitality in Becoming Educated Socially, a long-standing mission of Kids Unlimited, which opened 15 years ago with a $500 grant. Headquartered in a converted bowling alley, Kids Unlimited now is one of the largest youth organizations in the area, providing tutoring at five district schools, as well as elementary- and middle-school summer camps and community programs.
Kids Unlimited/VIBES welcomes any assistance for this boy and his family. Bring donations to the front desk, 821 N. Riverside Ave., or call 541-774-3900.
Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.