Local groups bring Christmas early to local familyWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth Sanchez of Toledo wiped away a tear Dec. 22 as she and her family, including husband Joe Sanchez and their children Joseph Jr., 7, Michael, 6, and Matthew, 7 months, were presented with gift cards for Christmas presents, food and gas as well as their utility bills covered for January.
“I just feel so blessed,” Joe said. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to get anything for my kids for Christmas. I was trying to make it happen on my own.”
A $500 Meijer gift card and a $130 gas card was purchased with money raised through an annual Christmas Party charity fundraiser of a local men’s group that would like to remain anonymous.
“We recognize the good fortune we have had in our own lives and with our families and we feel it is not only our duty but our honor to step up and help our fellow Toledoans during the holiday season,” a representative of the group told Toledo Free Press.
“It’s a huge blessing,” Beth said. “It will help us out a lot. My husband is the only one working. He works and works and works and we never get caught up.”
The Sanchez family is part of Cherry Street Mission Ministries’ Hope House Family Program, which helps families experiencing or facing homelessness working toward self-sufficiency through a one- to three-year structured program that emphasizes education, debt reduction and home ownership.
“They’ve been awesome. I’m just grateful for everything,” Joe said. “They go out of their way to help everybody so we’re just grateful for that.”
The family was living at Riveria Maia Apartments when they discovered mold in their apartment. One of their sons has asthma and Beth was pregnant, so they asked to move to another apartment, where they also found mold. After that, they started bouncing between family members, living in one bedroom at various relatives’ homes. Cherry Street helped them find their current home in March. Riveria Maia was condemned earlier this month.
“This family has been working the program for almost a year and they’ve progressed significantly,” said Berna Aguilar, family advocate for Cherry Street Mission. “With the head of the household finding new employment recently, this will be very helpful to them.”
Columbia Gas of Ohio will cover the January natural gas bill and also presented the family with a combination smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector and a water-saving showerhead.
“It’s exciting to partner with Toledo Free Press, FirstEnergy and others to help a family in our community this Christmas,” said Chris Kozak, communications manager for Columbia Gas of Ohio.” By covering their January natural gas bill, it’s an opportunity to extend that support beyond the holiday season and into 2015. We also want to make sure this family is safe going forward, and the smoke and CO detector should help protect them into the new year.”
Toledo Edison will cover the family’s January electric bill.
“It’s such a pleasure to be able to offer this gift on behalf of Toledo Edison to the Sanchez family,” said Linda Moss, regional president for Toledo Edison. “The outreach of the local community to help this family enjoy a special holiday is heartwarming and we are so proud to be a part of it.”
Joe’s new job is at Sun Chemicals in Maumee. He started Dec. 19.
“I have a good feeling about this,” Joe said. “I think it’s all going to work out.”