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“A Christmas to Remember” Where Your United Way Money Goes For Charlotte Blalock and her family, Christmas 2007 was the best Christmas they’ve had in years. The single mother of two, who is also raising her step-granddaughter, is thankful for a lot this year including the fact that she has a full-time job, a roof over her head and that her family is all together. Now, she has one more thing to be grateful for, a special holiday complete with presents and a fully decorated Christmas tree from United Way’s Gifts in Kind program. Last year, Charlotte and her family were homeless. She was unemployed and she didn’t even have a car. It was a real problem because her son has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheel chair every day. After losing their home through foreclosure two years ago, friends offered them a place to stay until Charlotte could find a job and financially get back on her feet again. It was very nice and they appreciated it very much, but it just wasn’t home. This year, Charlotte landed a steady job working for a commercial cleaning service. This has given her enough money to buy a used car and rent a place in Independence, MO, where her family could be together again in their own home, but things are still tough. Several times they’ve had to turn to Blue Summit Baptist Church Food Ministry to stretch their limited food budget. Much of that food came from Harvesters, which is one of nearly 150 agencies supported by United Way. As the holidays approached Charlotte talked with the children and told them that there was no money for extras this year; things like Christmas presents and a Christmas tree. They all said they understood. But then Charlotte got a call that changed everything. In a local partnership, United Way and Target were giving away 42 fully decorated Christmas trees with the help of local nonprofit agencies. One of the agencies receiving trees was the Blue Summit Baptist Church Food Ministry. United Way’s Gifts in Kind program had previously given the Church Ministry clothing, cosmetics and toys to share with their clients. Church Ministry volunteers selected six families that really needed help this holiday and Charlotte and her children were on the list. Charlotte couldn’t contain her excitement as volunteers delivered the Christmas tree and presents. There were big smiles on everyone’s faces, including the volunteers. She knew this would be a special Christmas indeed. Charlotte said, “My children haven’t asked for much. They understand our family is going through a tough time right now. Without a doubt, this will be one of the best Christmases we’ve had in a long, long time.” Liz Davis, co-director of the Blue Summit Church Ministry, says United Way’s Christmas tree and holiday gift program made a huge difference. Davis said, “Often the families receiving the gifts have resigned themselves to a holiday without presents or good cheer. The unexpected surprise of a Christmas tree and gifts changes their entire outlook on life. Just knowing that they and their family aren’t alone and forgotten, means as much or even more than the gifts themselves.” Charlotte Blalock couldn’t agree more and says Christmas 2007 was very special and is one she and her children will cherish for the rest of their lives. Volunteers delivered 42 Christmas trees to needy Kansas City area families during the holidays, donated by local Target through United Way’s Gifts in Kind program. The unexpected gift of a Christmas tree and presents from United Way’s Gifts in Kind program made this the best Christmas Charlotte Blalock and her family have had in years. Katie loved the talking Barbie Doll she found with her name on it under the Christmas tree this year. It was one of the gifts from United Way.
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