Story: Food and Toys Bring Shelter Joys

Story and Photo: Julie Daigle/American Red Cross

Charonne Lightfoot lies on a cot, smiling, as she watches her 20 month old daughter Tyra point at the colorful pictures in her Curious George book. Her 4 year-old-son Kieshawn is busy pushing his toy motorcycle around an invisible path along the floor. The family of three arrived at the Red Cross shelter in Hopatcong, NJ on Saturday, November 10th.

Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to family’s home. Charonne and her kids spent several days staying with friends before eventually returning to their Netcong home. Since the power was still out, Charonne did the best should could to make do but the daily strain of life without electricity took its toll.
Charonne pauses for a moment, swallows hard, and then says “I felt hopeless not being able to provide for my kids. The house was so cold and since I have electric appliances I couldn’t cook anything.” She wipes the tears streaming down her face and recomposes herself.

After only a few hours at the shelter, Charonne says she feels 100% better. “The Red Cross has treated us well. My kids got a hot lunch today and I was able to give the kids a bath and get cleaned up.” She added that it was a blessing for Tyra and Kieshawn to have access to snacks and toys as well.

Kieshawn moves his toy motorcycle up along the frame of the cot and flashes and ear-to-ear grin. His smile is contagious and soon his mother is beaming as well. “It’s a huge relief that my kids are cared for. They are comfy, fed and clean”, says Charonne.

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