Sharalynn, a single mother of nine, recently wrote a letter to the Goodfellow Fund.
“I have five biological children and all five are special needs — from ADHD to cerebral palsy to autism,” she wrote.
“One day CPS called me and said my niece and nephew needed a home, so of course I took them in. Then one of my nieces left her son at 9-months-old with me and has not come back. I am adopting him. Then this year I found out that my daughter that I gave up six years ago was abused and removed by CPS. So I reinstated my parental rights.”
The Arlington mother, 35, is trying to provide for her brood and, at the same time, finish her education in social work, leaving no time for a full-time job, she said.
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“I’m at schools all the time — their schools, my school,” she wrote. “Most are in special needs classes in Arlington ISD.”
Financial support comes from a couple of the kids’ Social Security disability payments, child support and help from Sharalynn’s parents, she said.
“We spend every dime on stuff like rent and lights,” she said.
Sharalynn said she did get a Christmas tree this year — a luxury she didn’t have last year. She plans to keep up the holiday spirit with little things like cookies and Christmas lights.
But with the Goodfellow Fund, Sharalynn was able to get her children the things they need.
“It means a lot because if it weren’t for the Goodfellow Fund, the kids wouldn’t be getting new coats this year and there would be no money for new shoes,” she said.
“More than anything, I’m grateful that I have all the kids still in the family — that we’re all together. It could be worse.”
The Star-Telegram started a Goodfellow Fund holiday drive back in 1912 and has continued it every year since. This year, almost 20,000 kids from about 8,000 families will receive $50 gift cards that can be redeemed for clothes and shoes at J.C. Penney.
But the fund is counting on the community to come through again with contributions to pay for those gifts.