This retired couple are struggling to raise grandchildren. Here's how to help.
SINTON — It’s been almost seven years since Joe and Helen began to raise their grandchildren, but this year has been especially tough with COVID-19.
Three of the four grandchildren that live with them in their modest rented three-bedroom home are of school age and because of Joe’s disability and health issuesthe three children have stayed home and done school virtually.
The family rarely leaves the home as Helen, Joe’s wife, will leave to walk to the grocery store and recently was able to drive after they received a car from Joe’s sister.
The school district delivers meals and the family receives help from friends with clothes but having a Christmas will be hard. But Angela, who is 7 and in the second grade, has a simple request — “Our family being together," for Christmas.
There is also Mark and Jayden, who are in the seventh and fifth grade, respectively.
Joe is on disability after working as a barber for nearly 20 years and previous to that worked for a drink company, and Helen worked as a hairdresser since the late 1960s. Their life took a turn just after they had had one of their children in the late 1970s when a nerve issue in Helen’s face caused severe pain, and the medical bills and loans piled up to the point where the family lost their house.
Joe retired from being a barber a few years ago because of his diabetes, and Helen only does a few hair appointments. Much of their social security and disability goes to pay the family’s rent with little else left over each month, and little to no help from the children's parents.
"We always make the best that we can but this year it is a little harsher because he hasn’t been able to do anymore," Helen said. "We get our monthly check, but our house is $700 rent."
But the children are appreciative of what their grandparents can provide them and have stayed at home continuing to do school virtually so as not to get any of them sick.
“Whatever we do for them, they appreciate everything, it’s a blessing,” Joe said. “We don’t let them go out because we are afraid something might go wrong. If they get sick they are not going to let us go see them. We tell them to wash their hands, wear a mask and do everything.”
Angela said she would like a new dollhouse for Christmas, Mark a remote control car and Jayden was undecided on a present, but all three are appreciative of what they have as Christmas approaches.
“It makes me feel happy because they take care of us,” Angela said.
"Yes, it's good, and it makes us happy," Jayden added.
The children represent thousands who will be helped by the Caller-Times Children's Christmas Appeal. The names of the families profiled have been changed to protect their privacy.
Since 1973, The Caller-Times has reported the struggle of needy children and their families during the holiday season. All the money donated to the Christmas Appeal campaign benefits the children; all overhead costs are borne by the Caller-Times, United Way of the Coastal Bend and participating agencies. This year, the Nueces County Record Star and the Alice Echo-News Journal joined the campaign.
Participating agencies include Boys & Girls Club of Alice, Duval County Christmas Committee, the Kleberg County Welfare Department, Nueces County Department of Social Services, the Odyssey After School Enrichment Program in Rockport, Sinton for Youth Inc. and the Purple Door.
HOW TO DONATE
Here’s three ways to help:
*Fill out the donation form on Page 2A. Make your check or money order payable to Children’s Christmas Appeal and mail to: United Way of Coastal Bend, 4659 Everhart Road, Corpus Christi, TX, 78411 (designate funds to Children's Christmas Appeal)
*Donate online at www.uwcb.org. Look for the Christmas Appeal logo.
*Text ChristmasAppeal (no spaces) to 41444 to make a donation.