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Single mother struggling to provide for herself, 4 daughters

November 27, 2016

This will be the first Christmas since Sammy’s boyfriend went to jail.

He left her with no money and four daughters, ages 5, 3, 2 and 1, to feed and care for.

She pays rent, utilities, a cellphone bill and babysitting services, purchases household items, attempts to purchase clothes for herself and the children, and buys groceries — all with a $512 monthly check from the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Sammy (case number 164), whose name has been changed for this story, is one of many individuals and families the Salina Christmas Fund hopes to help this holiday season. The fund, in its 32nd year, provides gifts of toys, food and clothing, among other assistance, to local needy families throughout the year.

Sammy has dated her boyfriend on and off for the past seven years, saying, “He would move away and things would be going well, then he would always come back and things got worse.”

The couple lived in Great Bend for a few years, where she worked as a customer service manager at a big-box store and her boyfriend worked in an oilfield.

“Things were going well for us while he was working in the oilfield,” she said. “Then oil prices went down and the oilfield stopped and things really started deteriorating.”

On Easter Sunday this year, the couple and the four children were evicted from their home because they hadn’t paid rent.

“We lost the car and the house in a matter of days. We had to decide on whether or not to live in a house shelter in Hutchinson or in Salina. We heard about the Ashby House here in Salina and decided that would be the best place for us to go,” Sammy said.

Nothing for extras

Sammy said that as part of moving into the Ashby House, the family could bring only seven outfits a person and no toys for the children.

“Most of their clothing and toys are still in Great Bend to this day. We can’t find a ride down there to bring everything to Salina,” she said. “We only ended up staying in the Ashby House for a couple of months.”

The family moved into a home with assistance from the Salina Housing Authority, Sammy said. Their rent and utility payments are income-based.

“Last month, I didn’t have enough money to get diapers for my children. I’ve been left with absolutely nothing after paying bills — well, about 17 bucks,” she said. “With that I have to try to get groceries, things for my children, and when I start back working, I’ll have to start paying someone to baby-sit my children, and the bills will more than likely go up.”

Sammy said her boyfriend had started working in Salina but was laid off.

“He is a certified welder and ... he got a good job as a welder in town,” she said. “He may have had that job for less than a week before he had to go back to Great Bend for a death in his family.”

Praying for better days

Sammy said her boyfriend faced a DUI charge in Great Bend and had been on probation in Barton County. While in Salina he was completing a drug rehab program and going to Alcoholics Anonymous.

“After the funeral, he and his brother and a couple of his brother’s friends went out to get a drink, which isn’t something he’s supposed to do while on probation and taking drug classes,” she said. “He ended up getting into a fight ... and was charged with aggravated battery.”

He has been in jail for three months and could remain for at least a few more months.

“It’s just a really bad time right now. I have to ride the bus everywhere I go, and when I get groceries I can only bring a certain amount of bags on the bus or have a certain size stroller with me,” she said. “It’s difficult for me to even keep up with myself. ... I make sacrifices every day, but I always put my children first.”

Sammy said she’s praying for better days “primarily because of my children.

“I believe all children should have a better situation than this one. I want to be able to better provide for them and make that happen for my children. They’re who I struggle for. I know our situation will get better; I’m just being patient and trying to stay positive.”