CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rita, age 42, has had a difficult life. There was a time when she was addicted to drugs and even served time in jail on a drug charge. Since her release, though, she's worked hard, not only to be a good mother to her 14-year-old daughter, but also to her three grandchildren and five other minor children who have been placed in her care.
To save you from doing the math - that's nine children (all girls), ages 2 to 16, in a single two-bedroom apartment.
Rita successfully holds down a part-time job and receives food stamps, and her caseworker is helping her apply for assistance as a caretaker relative with the Temporary Aid to Needy Families Program, but the family is in need of some help.
During a recent home visit, social workers found Rita's apartment to be as clean as an Army barracks. All nine girls were present and nicely behaved, and all appeared to be well taken care of. Before the social workers could leave, the girls insisted on hugging them goodbye.
The three youngest girls are sleeping in the same room as Rita on a single full-size mattress placed on the floor. The six oldest girls are sleeping in the other bedroom and also lack adequate bedding.
The family would benefit greatly from a full-size mattress for one room, and bunk beds and mattresses for the other room. The estimated cost for these items is $1,000.
Monetary donations for Rita and her children can be made through the Gazette Charities Christmas Fund, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301. Credit card donations can be made online at wvgazette.com/ChristmasCharities.