Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the yearlong abundance we have received.Illustrating these blessings is the bounty of food around table, our communion with family and friends, and the time spent with loved ones. Yet, not everyone has food, family, or time with loved ones.
For our children who live at Hillsides, the holiday time triggers feelings of depression and loneliness not being with their family. For youth living on their own, having enough food to eat is a challenge. For families in crisis, the financial burdens of holiday gifts, festive gatherings, and food for their children on holiday break who receive free meals during school add to their stressors.
Rosa, mother of six children — Violeta, 16, Miguel, 14, Armando, 13, Sofia, 10, Gabby, 8 and Ellie, 7, is an example of how this time a year can add to the difficulty of providing for her family. Rosa was able to break free from an abusive relationship, which has caused the family to lose income and struggle to find an affordable place to live. Rosa and the children live in a one bedroom apartment, all seven either sharing one full-sized mattress or sleeping on the floor.
Due to the financial instability and the past trauma, the children started showing signs of anxiety and depression, and Rosa sought help at Hillsides. At Hillsides, she was able to receive the services her family needed to begin to heal.
Last holiday season, as the Hillsides therapist met with Rosa and her children, it became clear they would greatly benefit from the Hillsides Holiday Adopt-a-Family program, which helps by providing families with basic needs, food gift cards, and holiday gifts. At first the family was very shy about asking for items they needed. It took multiple prompts, and finally the family requested items such as clothes, shoes, rain gear, and school supplies. When the items were delivered Rosa and the children were overwhelmed by the generosity. They received new clothes, in their specific sizes, which replaced torn and outgrown clothes they had been wearing. They received new shoes, new pots/pans, towels, bedding, a soccer ball, games, and grocery gift cards-needed basics, with a few fun items, to get them through their daily life and let them enjoy life.
Through the kind and thoughtful donors we have in our community, Rosa and her children are recovering from trauma and feeling hopeful about the future. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for your generosity, the abundance you share with others, and the cheerful heart you extend to families like Rosa’s. Thank you for keeping our mission of helping 14,000 children, young adults, and families heal, grow, and thrive.