Christmas Connection, Day 13: Families battle homelessness, fires and hurricanes

Over the next two weeks, the Tallahassee Democrat is partnering with Catholic Charities on the Christmas Connection to spotlight local families who need help this Christmas. Donations will be taken through Dec. 17. Here's how you can help.

"Donations are down this year," said Mary Coburn, who handles community outreach for the Christmas Connection. “We greatly need food, toys, blankets, diapers, and pots and pans. We appreciate the community's continued support.”

CASE # 213: Parents of 2 find home, jobs

PERSONAL DETAILS

These parents of 2 were homeless until securing housing in Tallahassee. While homeless, they lost everything they owned. The parents have now found jobs but are still trying to catch up on bills that are past due.  Christmas gifts would help this family reduce stress and provide for their children.

CRITICAL ITEMS

Washer and dryer, TV, pots and pans, gas grill, clothing gift card, Toddler bed and mattress

FAMILY MEMBERS

Mother, Age 28

Suggested gifts: Tablet, blender, food processor, painting supplies and canvas, bath and body set

Father, Age 30

Suggested gifts:  Xbox controller and games

Son, Age 8

Suggested gifts: Tablet, Tee Turtle reversible octopus plushie, magnet blocks, Nutty toys 8 pk. (sensory toys), desk, loft bed, toys and books

Son, Age 1

Suggested gifts: Fisher Price basketball hoop and ball, trucks, balls, Shrek, educational toys and books

Bicycles donated for the Catholic Charities Christmas Connection drive on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. So far this year donations are down for food, diapers and toys.
Bicycles donated for the Catholic Charities Christmas Connection drive on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. So far this year donations are down for food, diapers and toys.

Holiday giving: Christmas Connection, Day 12: Help young moms, grandmother with cancer, teens, toddlers

CASE # 223: Housefires put family in travel trailer

PERSONAL DETAILS

This family has suffered 2 house fires, one in Eastpoint in 2018 when the controlled burn got out of control and then another while living in a FEMA trailer. They are now living in a travel trailer that was all that they could afford. The oldest child has a disability and all 3 boys struggle in school. The oldest son’s mother died by suicide in 2019, so the family would appreciate some help.

CRITICAL ITEMS

Clothing (for boys that was lost in fire) (the boys’ sizes are available if donor is willing), food, gas card, blankets (5 full/queen), toiletries

FAMILY MEMBERS

Father, Age 36

Suggested gifts: Sporting goods, outdoor gear, household items

Partner, Age 26

Suggested gifts:  Queen comforter set with sheets (likes purple), household items

Son, Age 16

Suggested gifts:  Tablet, teen gifts, books and games

Son, Age 13

Suggested gifts:  Tablet, teen gifts, books and games

Son, Age 7

Suggested gifts:  20” bike and helmet, remote control car, handheld and board games, balls

Food donated for the Catholic Charities Christmas Connection drive on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. So far this year donations are down for food, diapers and toys.
Food donated for the Catholic Charities Christmas Connection drive on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. So far this year donations are down for food, diapers and toys.

Holiday giving: Christmas Connection, Day 11: Family derailed by accident, grandparents under stress

CASE # 243: Family of 8 needs blankets

PERSONAL DETAILS

This family of 8 has struggled financially and recently moved to reduce costs that have escalated. The 5-year-old daughter is developmentally delayed and receives speech and physical therapy. The parents work at Waffle House. They have missed the last 2 Christmases and Thanksgivings due to finances.  They hope to celebrate with their children this year.

CRITICAL ITEMS

Blankets (4 twin, 4 full queen), food, toiletries

FAMILY MEMBERS

Mother, Age 34

Suggested gifts: Pots and pans, silverware, glasses, toaster oven

Father, Age 31

Suggested gifts:  Sporting goods, video games

Daughter, Age 5

Suggested gifts:  16” Bike with training wheels and helmet, educational toys, games and books

Daughter, Age 4

Suggested gifts: African American baby doll, books, educational games and toys

Daughter, Age 8

Suggested gifts:  Tablet, board games, play make up and nails

Daughter, Age 12

Suggested gifts:  24” Bike and helmet, board games, body spray/perfume

Daughter, Age 1

Suggested gifts:  Learning toys and games, books

Daughter, Age 16

Suggested gifts:  Tablet, body spray/perfume, Chick-fil-A card

Son, Age 17

Suggested gifts:  Basketball, football, hair clippers video games

CASE # 252: Family lost home in Hurricane Michael

PERSONAL DETAILS

This family lost their home during Hurricane Michael and is still trying to get back on its feet. They have been living with various family and friends and are now living with a grandmother.  As the parents try to get life back in order, they would love assistance to have Christmas for their family.

CRITICAL ITEMS

Blankets (1 twin, 4 full/queen)

FAMILY MEMBERS

Grandmother, Age 61

Suggested gifts: Pots and pans, cups, kitchenware

Mother, Age 37

Suggested gifts: 4 Heaters

Father, Age 39

Suggested gifts:  Towels, laundry detergent

Daughter, Age 15

Suggested gifts:  Arts and crafts, especially painting, silver jewelry

Son, Age 5

Suggested gifts:  Superhero toys (Batman and Spiderman), Sonic the hedgehog, building sets, books

How to help

Donate in person: Drop off donated items at the Christmas Connection site at 309 South Bronough Street (corner of Bronough and Pensacola, bottom level of Kleman Plaza). The site is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Days of operation are Nov. 26-Dec. 17. Deadline for donated items is Dec. 11.

Wish List: Shop early and shop easy with the Christmas Connection Amazon wish list. You can view the wish list at the website TheChristmasConnection.org.

Blanket Days: Drop off new blankets and heaters from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the 309 South Bronough location. A volunteer will help you unload your car. Additional dropoff locations: thechristmasconnection.org

Donate online or by mail: Make a monetary donation online at TheChristmasConnection.org or send a check to Christmas Connection, P.O. Box 20165, Tallahassee, FL 32316.

Adopt a family: Complete a brief request form on the website and a family in need will be assigned to you by the volunteer adoption coordinator. All families are referred to us from social service organizations in the Big Bend area.

Host a Christmas Connection collection drive or holiday party: Gather people from your office, school, church, sports team, family or friends and host a party or collection drive. Sign up online on the website and then collect gift items, gift cards and/or monetary donations, which can be brought to the collection site.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Christmas Connection, Day 13: Give pots and pans, gift cards, tablets