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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jobless vet, wife need help to catch up on bills

BY AMY RENEE LEIKER
The Wichita Eagle

Share the Season is an annual campaign that offers one-time aid to people affected by unforeseen hardships. The people are not identified to protect their privacy.

This 27-year-old Air Force veteran was laid off in March 2009. He filed for unemployment and started college, ready to fulfill his dream of becoming a history teacher. His wife taught at an elementary school. Money was tight, the man explained, but the couple managed to pay their expenses.

Then his wife, 26, lost her job in April after budget cuts. With neither working, the pair’s mortgage, car payments and medical bills piled up.

“When we lost her income plus insurance, we lost a lot of stuff,” the man said.

“It was then up to me to put my (education) dreams on hold and find a steady job while she was on unemployment.”

He found a job, then lost the job. With bank accounts dwindling, the man turned to Share the Season, desperate to make ends meet.

“I’m one of those people who thought that I’d never ask for help,” he said.

“But the stress from all of the debt … is unbelievable.”

Share the Season paid about $700 in bills to get the couple back on track. His wife, who is looking for a new job, plans to substitute teach in the spring. The man recently applied for another job in aircraft. And sometime soon — maybe in a few years, he said — he’ll head back to college to finish his degree.

“We were just using the Share the Season to tide us over until January,” the man said.

“We’ll take the help now and donate back to the cause … once we get back on our feet.”

So far, Share the Season has raised $168,517. Donors include: Jo Alexander; Jamil and Carolyn Bakri; Gregory Barbeau; Betty Bays; Jeffery and Tracy Beehn; Michael and Susan Brecht; Cynthia and John Carnahan; Steve Clark; Ronald Coleman; Coleman Materials, L.L.C.; Don Cornette; Bruce and Julie Deterding; Ralph and Pat Engelken; James and Joanne Flippin; John and Nancy Frey; David and Janet Haines, in memory of Jack Swinson; Dennis and Amy Hall; Richard Hite; Jamie Lane; Thomas and Kathleen Pott; Jacob Reed; Edna Richardson; Helen Scott, in memory of Lloyd Scott; St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – Adult Sunday School; Woody and Barbara Swain; Joe and Sheila Tigert; Bill and Debby Lucas; and 20 anonymous donations, including one in memory of Bertie Lee Webb and another in honor of the donor’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Send contributions to Share the Season at the Wichita Community Foundation, 301 N. Main, Suite 100, Wichita, KS 67202.

Donations also can be made through PayPal online at www.wichitacf.org. Donors will be listed in The Eagle; please note if you prefer to remain anonymous. For more information, call 316-264-4880.

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