This holiday, be reminded of why the season matters most -- giving back. HuffPost Impact & Innovation and HuffPost Voices have teamed up to feature stories from 12 families in need over 12 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Moms, Dads and kids talk to us about working to get by, what they might go without this holiday and how you can help.
Jaime remains optimistic that he’ll be able to eventually get back on his own two feet. He’s continuing his rehabilitation and takes job training courses at the Alameda County Food Bank in hopes of eventually landing an office or truck driving job. Read the whole story here.
Kim Gray found herself in a Michigan dope house unable to get high. The drugs didn't have the same euphoric effect she was used to. She was scared. So she prayed. Her prayer turned into a hymnal, which led to her getting kicked out of the dope house. Gray, 38, was homeless and facing a drug dependency that lasted more than 20 years. Read the whole story here.
Alicia Martinez-Alexander, an 8-month-old who lives in Oregon, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in October. While she is currently in remission, she still has more than two years of treatments. Read the whole story here.
When she isn't playing in the park with her 5-year-old daughter, or reading her bedtime stories, Melani attends school full-time, working on an associate degree in childhood development, with an eye toward graduating with a bachelor's degree in four years time. After classes and on weekends, Gomez cleans houses in the San Francisco Bay area, piecing together a living as best she can. Read the whole story here.
This little boy with a huge heart needs your help to stay smiling. Jude Sullivan Peters, known by his family and friends as “the brave little warrior,” was born with a rare, terminal form of dwarfism called rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata. The disease, which affects less than 100 people worldwide, is difficult to treat, but the FDA is in the approval process for a drug that could potentially cure RCDP. Read the whole story here.
The first thing on 28-year-old Rocio’s mind this holiday season isn’t putting up decorations or even receiving presents. She only hopes to provide her kids with a better future. Rocio, who chose to share only her first name, lives in San Francisco with her 5-year-old son, 3-year-old son and 1 1/2-year-old daughter. Through an organization called HandUp, she is trying to raise money to cover registration and repairs for her vehicle as well as fines she has acquired after she and her family lived out of her truck. Read the whole story here.
In addition to raising a toddler, Breanna from Oakland, California has spent over three years taking care of her mother, who has diabetes, experienced kidney failure and was on dialysis for two years before receiving a transplant from Breanna's brother. Unable to afford her own housing, Breanna lives with her mom in Livermore, along with her son, and helps with tasks like cooking, cleaning and personal care as her in-home care provider, she told The Huffington Post. Read the whole story here.
The Ketarkus family has adopted 11 kids. Donations will be used to pay $20,000 in remaining adoption costs for their daughters Cate and Gigi. There are also upcoming costs that will be incurred to get Gigi the physical and occupational therapy and language acquisition that she desperately requires. In both girls' situations, the circumstances were so urgent that they proceeded as quickly as possible to get them the care and treatment that they required, even though they did not have the entire funds to cover the costs. As a result, they are carrying $20,000 in a loan against their credit cards. Read the whole story here.
Though Henrietta, 55, and her husband, Tyson, 60, face a multitude of financial and health issues, the Houston grandparents didn’t flinch when it came to taking in their two young grandsons with autism. The two are struggling to pay their bills, but are determined to do whatever it takes to keep their home and help Jake and Gabriel thrive. Read the whole story here.
Shannon White finally has the home of her dreams. After spending the last five years passing between friends’ apartments, transitional housing and periods of homelessness, she now lives in a two-bedroom in Fairfield, California. She’s filled it with furniture from her childhood and from relatives, and there are family pictures lining the rooms. Now she’s just waiting for her four daughters to join her there. Read the whole story here.
Danielle Pettas knew as soon as her son was born that something was wrong. She just felt it in her bones. She wept, later on, when doctors told her it was an irreversible brain disorder --semilobar holoprosencephaly, a birth defect that occurs when the brain fails to properly divide into two hemispheres. The condition results in a number of other related complications, from facial deformities to respiratory difficulties. Read the whole story here.
This mom's been through so much, but this Christmas, all she wants is for her two sons to have the holidays they deserve. Lily, a 28-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, has had her share of tough times. The single mother of two sons, Brian, 10, and Joseph, 8, was first kicked out of her house when she was 15 years old as a result of family issues and spent more than half a decade without permanent housing, while also being a teen mom. Read the whole story here.
Considering the vast amount of misfortune Brandon Yarnovich has faced, he could’ve easily wound up dead or in jail at this point, the West Point junior told The Huffington Post while taking a quick break between classes. Though Yarnovich, 21, had the odds stacked against him, the economics and systems engineering major is on his way to graduating college, serving his country and then launching a successful business career, mostly because his grandmother, Betty, wouldn’t have it any other way. But Betty, 71, is worried she may not get to see Yarnovich reach those goals. Read the whole story here.