After chatting for a bit she shyly handed over her letter to Santa, which listed typical requests for a fifth-grader. A Barbie Dream house, a My Little Pony train set,
But it's the item at the bottom of the list that reveals the most: a week at my house with my family, and animals and friends.
"Get out of adult business," her sister Jillian says with a smile. Jillian worries the 10-year-old has had to deal with too many adult problems, hasn't had the chance to just be a kid.
Penny was raised by her father's girlfriend,
Penny represents thousands of kids who will be helped by the Caller-Times Children's Christmas Appeal. The names of those profiled are changed to protect the privacy of the families, who will be featured in the newspaper to
Jillian acknowledges that it's been a struggle. The family recently moved to
They just moved from the hotel room they had been living in to a small one-bedroom rental, shaded by
"We took the house on faith," Jillian mentions, not sure if they'll be able to afford it for long. They've relied on donated furniture: a futon for Jillian and Ralph, a rollaway twin bed for Penny. Jillian's coworkers helped out, buying Penny the glasses she needed and giving them a small dining set. Jillian would love to get Penny a real bed and dresser, maybe a DVD player so she can watch some movies.
Since 1973, the Caller-Times has reported the plight of needy children during the holiday season. Every cent donated to the drive benefits the children because all overhead costs are borne by the Caller-Times,
Participating agencies include the
"I don't even know how I passed," Penny murmurs. Her sister is adamant she will succeed in school, arranging for tutoring, meeting with teachers, encouraging her to shoot for college. They like their new town. Penny recently earned a spot on the school choir. She's enrolled in the Odyssey After-School program.
Their situation can be overwhelming, Jillian admits. But she refuses to back down from helping Penny, "I just want her to know that she's worth it. She's worth every effort. She is very much wanted," Jillian states fiercely, wiping tears from her eyes. "Circumstances change, but she's never ONCE not been wanted."
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