JONESVILLE — Santa Claus is a tough act to bring off for families clinging to the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.
One Lee County mom is like many others this holiday season. In a constant struggle just to make ends meet every month, December poses a special challenge. We shall call her Sunny, a reflection of her steadfast demeanor that keeps on shining no matter what and, like the nearest star our planet orbits, is the center of gravity as well as light and warmth of her family.
Now in her mid-30s, Sunny is a single mother of three, ages 8, 6 and 9 months. That’s a handful in the best of circumstances, but especially challenging with $200 in monthly child support. Then, there is a brother and sister, ages 14 and 12, for whom Sunny serves as big sister with motherly responsibilities.
Plus, there is Sunny’s own mother, who is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, the result of a debilitating non-cancerous growth on her spinal column. Sunny has been caring for her mother for about five years.
Employed in the health care sector until her infirmity, Sunny’s mother receives a monthly disability check that pretty much keeps the family’s collective head, along with food stamps, above water.
“Mom pretty much takes care of all of us (financially) where she draws disability,” Sunny said. “My $200 a month in child support doesn’t do very well, but it is what it is. As for Christmas, I really don’t know yet. We’re just now putting our tree up. There’s been so much stuff going on. Mom just got out of the hospital, and my daughter has a birthday coming up.”
A dollar never stretches quite as far as it used to, but squeezing value out of every penny is a way of life for Sunny and her family.
“Basically, we barely get by during the month. After making all of our payments (the usual household bills) and stuff, there’s not much left over for anything else,” Sunny said. “We’re going to try (to get gifts for the kids) but right now my first worry is about my little girl’s birthday.”
Sunny said last year’s Christmas was “a little bit better than what it’s going to be this year. We had a lot of help last year. It was a struggle getting my brother and sister something last year. But this year I’m going to worry about all of them.”
Her biggest Christmas wish is for the kids to find Santa Claus things under the tree, and they needn’t be extra special things, either.
“They’re not picky,” she said. “Just about anything is special to them.”
Sunny’s family is familiar with the Rescue Fund. Last year, the family was one of the many across the region to receive assistance and will this year, too.
“I remember getting something like that last year, and that helped a bunch,” she said. “It really did. I can’t tell you how much we appreciated it.”
Sunny’s family is one of the many families the Times-News Rescue Fund seeks to provide a little bit of extra Christmas cheer each year. Last year, generous readers donated about $60,000 that provided for food vouchers distributed to needy individuals and/or families across the six-county region in Tennessee and Virginia.
Tax deductible donations can be made to the Times-News Rescue Fund at P.O. Box 479, Kingsport, TN 37662.