In the span of a few days this week, Jennifer Abbey — who is due to give birth momentarily — faced a range of emotions as the victim of a devastating crime, and then the recipient of an incredible act of generosity from complete strangers.
Abbey, a 20-year-old mother-to-be from Longview, Wa., visited her father on Sunday and borrowed his truck to go to the store. When she returned, her refurbished 2000 Honda Civic EX, which had been parked in front of her dad’s house, was nowhere to be found. Making matters worse, Abbey had just spent the bulk of what little money she had to purchase a new carseat and other items for her baby boy’s impending arrival. Those supplies were in her stolen car.
“I was completely devastated,” Abbey tells Yahoo Parenting. “There were already so many horrible things going on in my life and that just topped it. So I was destroyed and hopeless and I just wanted to give up life completely. Like I had no hope. I was just very torn apart.”
Abbey had worked hard as a laborer laying train track to purchase and fix up that car. The brutal job led to a broken a finger and a kneecap, but paid well enough for her not to care. She also completed much of the major surgery on her car herself with some help from friends, including installing a new engine and steering components.
Having the car stolen after all that back-breaking toil was a sucker punch to be sure, but losing the supplies for her baby and not knowing how she could replace them was heartbreaking.
When Abbey was three months into her pregnancy, her employer insisted she check with her physician to make sure working as a railroad laborer was safe for her and her unborn child. Her doctor said it wasn’t and she was forced to take an unpaid leave of absence and begin collecting unemployment to get by.
Stolen on Sunday, her car was found 24 hours later on Monday — albeit not drivable because the steering column had been torn apart — and all the baby items were gone. The people who’d discovered the car in their neighborhood volunteered to replace all of the baby gear after they heard the mom couldn’t afford to do so herself.
“They said, ‘We’re just going to do it.’ It was not out of pity or guilt, it was just, ‘Hey, it’s the right thing to do,’ ” Clark County Sheriff deputy Scott Holmes tells The Columbian.
Abbey was happy to have her car back, knowing she could eventually rebuild it once again, and blown away by the generosity of strangers she’d never met, who’d chipped in for a new combination carseat and stroller, several boxes of diapers, and other items to help her begin life the right way with the boy she is expecting. She and the baby’s father, Brandon Swanson, have decided to name their son Kaziah.
“It was amazing and I was very emotional,” Abbey says. “As soon as [the Sheriff] opened the door and I started seeing baby gifts, I started crying because I had spent my last unemployment check on that baby stuff. Seriously, that was the last money I was going to get until I go back to work. So it was a very huge blessing that they had went and done that because I had no way to replace that stuff. I mean, I’m sure my friends and family could have helped me out, but that was amazing that complete strangers who don’t even know me cared that much to do that for me.”
By Wednesday night, Abbey said her car was mostly fixed thanks to a loan from her father and some sweat equity from two good friends. Meanwhile, she was preparing for the arrival of her son. She won’t have to worry how she’s going to get him home from the hospital.
“When I found my car, I was happy even seeing the way they did what they did, I was still excited to have it back,” Abbey says. “That’s lucky. Usually it’s chopped up and stripped out. Then [the Sheriff] showed me that baby stuff and it made that a beautiful thing to me. It gave me all that hope back. I just lost faith in humanity and it just crushed me that people could do that and then turn around and people did something very sweet.”
(Photo: Courtesy of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office)