Rescuing Christmas for a Weary Mom

Nov 13, 2020

When Rebecca filled out an application for her 3-year-old son, Jeremiah, to receive a scholarship to attend summer camp at the Oakbrook Terrace Salvation Army Corps Community Center ten years ago, she had no idea how much that piece of paper would impact her family’s life.

Jeremiah received the scholarship, attended camp, and loved it. Then the corps sponsored the family – then consisting of Rebecca and her husband Vincent as well as their children from previous relationships, Jeremiah and Emily, both 3 – to attend family camp at Wonderland Camp, the Army’s camp and conference facility just over the border in Wisconsin. That, too, was a great experience.

In the ten years since that summer, Rebecca and her husband have added a few more children to the family. “The Salvation Army has been with us every step of the way,” Rebecca said. That “every step” has included scholarships for her children to attend camp every summer, help paying rent and utilities, assistance from the corps’ food pantry, and financial help to pay for car repairs, no small thing for a couple who drives a taxi and limo. Army staff have seen the couple through a rough patch in their marriage, during which Rebecca said she found peace at the Oakbrook Terrace women’s Bible study.

“They’ve kept me above water,” Rebecca said. “Everyone has gone through stuff, and you either get stronger or you break. They’ve kept me strong.”

One of those challenging seasons came last year when Rebecca’s youngest, Joseph, was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a month and a half. Lisa Jordan, the Youth Development Director at the Oakbrook Terrace corps, visited multiple times, bringing a crib and a diaper bag full of essentials as she had for Rebecca’s past two pregnancies.

“Every time we’ve been down, they’ve always been there,” Rebecca said. Lisa also brought applications for Christmas assistance to the hospital, helping Rebecca fill them out so the family could receive the extra help they needed at the holidays. Through the Army’s Adopt-a-Family program, Rebecca’s kids received winter coats, clothes, boots, and Christmas presents.

“We wouldn’t have had Christmas, really, without this help,” Rebecca said. “My kids know the meaning of Christmas, that it’s not about the gifts, but despite all we were going through they had a wonderful Christmas thanks to The Salvation Army.”

“Without their help, we probably would have ended up on the street. They’ve helped us to lengths I never expected when I filled out that application for summer camp years ago,” Rebecca said. “To us, The Salvation Army is family.”

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