LIMA — James and Lydia and their two children, 5-year-old Alex and 4-year-old Michael, were already having problems making ends meet. Both parents were having trouble landing dependable employment and they had found things to be expensive in Florida.
“We were just getting by,” Lydia said. “The cost of living was expensive in Florida. We were on public assistance and we were just scraping by.”
Problems for the family became even worse in April one night while they were visiting a friend's home. Luckily the entire family was out of the home, but they returned to find their home in flames and the fire department on the way. A neighbor spotted the fire and alerted firefighters. The damage was considered a total loss by the time firefighters were able to put out the blaze.
“Wires were loose in a ceiling fan and caught the insulation on fire,” Lydia said of the accident. “We felt fortunate that we were not home, but it was a total loss. We lost everything we had.”
The family was able to get help from friends and family to move back to Lima, where they were originally from, but the road to recovery has been anything but easy. They were able to find temporary shelter with a cousin. The relative had two older boys who has been able to help out with clothes, but finding a job has still still been problematic. To make matters worse, James and Lydia have now separated, due in part to the stress of their situation.
“My cousin has been able to help us a lot with clothes because she has two older boys,” Lydia said, “but it is a full house right now. I would like to find a job so we can get our own place. It has been hard because we don't have a car and I usually have to take the bus to get somewhere.”
Despite the family's situation, Lydia said she remains optimistic the family's situation will improve. Starting from ground level, she said the kids are in need mostly of clothing. Alex wears a size 6 pants and shirt while Michael wears 5T pants and a 4 small shirt. Shoes, socks and a few toys are also needed.
“Right now they are playing with the older boys' toys but I would like for them to have some of their own,” Lydia said.
Lydia said she would like to have some games for the children or some learning-type toys, especially for her younger child.
The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies, Bradfield Community Center, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Federal Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants' privacy.