Twenty-two-year-old Zoila is no stranger to struggle.
She became a mother at 15, transferred to a school for teenage mothers and then had her second child a year later.
“I dropped out because it was hard with two,” she said.
But Zoila returned to high school after taking the year off. She graduated in 2010, she said. Now the single mother of two is trying to earn her associate degree at Tarrant County College.
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She said she’s thinking about ultimately majoring in social work. “I want to provide a better future for my kids so they’ll expect more out of life than what I have,” she said.
However, Zoila said, things have recently taken a turn for the worse. She has put her part-time education on hold this semester and quit her job at a Haltom City thrift store to stay home with her children. Her now-6-year-old daughter has emotional problems. They’re seeing a counselor, she said.
“I was working for them — to give them clothing, school supplies,” she said. “So now that I’m not working, it’s hard. I want to provide for them, and I also want to go back to TCC next semester.”
Zoila applied to the Goodfellow Fund this year to give her children a Christmas she couldn’t. With the assistance, she said, she wants to buy coats for her daughter and her 5-year-old son.
“They really need coats,” she said. “But I want to wait and wrap them up for Christmas.”
Zoila said that this is the first year she has applied to Goodfellows and that she’s grateful for it.
“It’s filling a void that I can’t provide this year,” she said. “I really appreciate it a lot.”
The Star-Telegram started a Goodfellow Fund holiday drive back in 1912 and has continued every year since. The North Texas region has grown and thrived during those 101 years, but the number of children in need has grown, too.
This year, almost almost 20,000 kids from about 8,000 families will receive $50 gift cards that can be redeemed for clothes and shoes. The fund is counting on the community to come through again with contributions to pay for those gifts.