For this couple in their late 40s, there was no other option.
When their grandson was born sickly and his parents could not care for him, they knew what they would do.
I couldnt let him go to the state. Weve had him ever since he got out of the hospital, the grandmother said. He was born and we knew something was wrong.
The baby, now 8 months old, was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and was diagnosed with Hirschsprungs disease, which affects the colon and bowel movements.
He has since had surgery. The medical bills have begun piling up. The grandmother is hoping Share the Season might help the family get caught up with bills.
Usually we give, but this year we have used everything we had in savings, the grandmother said. The familys name is being withheld to protect their privacy.
Share the Season is a nonprofit local effort that provides one-time aid to people over the holiday season. The Wichita Community Foundation coordinates the annual program along with the Salvation Army and The Eagle.
Share the Season has been accepting applications for help since the beginning of November.
Starting Thursday, The Eagle will publish a daily story of need. Most of those featured will remain anonymous, but their needs will be verified by the Salvation Army.
There is a desperation now that you can read between the lines of the stories, said Cheryl Warne, director of the Salvation Armys emergency social and disaster service. People are grasping for any help they can get because they have been struggling so long. Very few of the families who are qualifying for help have anywhere else to turn. They are people who it is very difficult to ask for help.
The average recipient receives help toward paying mortgage, utility or medical bills. Payments are made directly to creditors.
In the 12 years Share the Season has been in existence, it has raised more than $2 million.
In 1999, local philanthropist Mary Lynn Oliver told Wichita Community Foundation leaders about a program in Santa Fe, N.M., called The Empty Stocking Fund, which served as the prototype for Share the Season.
In the first several years of the program, the Wichita Community Foundation provided seed money to help the campaign. In more recent years, contributions have continued to pour in after the holiday season. Some of that money has been used to help people with unexpected needs at other times of the year.
Last year, more than 900 donors gave more than $216,000 to help 251 families in need. Their efforts were a grassroots approach in which the majority of donors sent what they could $5, $10 or $25 while some donors contributed $5,000 to $10,000.
For the first time this year, the program sent letters in October to donors who have consistently given in the past. So far, more than $46,000 has been raised to jump-start this years campaign.
The program continues until the end of the year.
There are many programs to help people in need. Share the Season is special for this one time of the year. What gets peoples attention is that logo, said Shelly Chenoweth Prichard, president and CEO of the Wichita Community Foundation. The logo of a red Santas hat marks the Share the Season stories found each day in The Eagle and online at Kansas.com.
The grandparents raising an ill baby did not expect to be in this situation. A back injury had forced the grandmother to retire several years ago. To help meet bills, she has gone back to work.
In this situation, I have to go back to work or we would lose everything, she said. Last night, I got off work at 7 and was home by 7:30. He was poopy. I changed him like 20 times. He goes through a big box of diapers every two days, sometimes more.
Share the Season has raised $46,076 so far. Among recent donors:
Kevin and Roxanne Arnel, in memory of Ken Coffey; Ted and Marcia Ayres, in honor of Marni Stevens; Randall Ball; Jeffery and Tracy Beehn; Randy and Carrie Benjamin; Peggy Browning, in memory of William H. Browning; Jack and Jaye Ann Buehler; Bruce and Meribeth Buhr; Ronald Bye, in memory of Holly Palomino;
Arthur and Sherida (Dill) Claassen; Norma Clem; Jack and Norma Clutter; Bruce and Patricia Cole; Coleman Employees Community Fund; Ronald Coleman; Jeraldine Cooper; Kelee Crager; Terri Dondlinger; Drs. Howell and Loehr, D.D.S., P.A., in memory of Kenneth R. Coffey;
Robin Dunlap, in memory of Mom; Jim and Marlene Edgington; George and Judy Ehmke; Rodney and Velva Ellenz; Ron and Ellen Estes; Ronald and Judy Fiegel; Barbara Finney; Anna Flynn, in memory of Mary Joyce Flynn; Paul and Bernadette Frank;
Ron and Joni Garcia; Mark Gay; Bruce and Brenda Gilkey; John and Lydia Gillquist; Wayne and Mary Gipson; Thomas Goranson; James and Linda Grasser; Wilbur Gregory; Marian Grubb; Hugh and Patricia Harding; Lance and Pat Hayes; Barbara Hemphill; Gary and Debbie Henning; John and Sandra Herrington; Richard Hite; Gerald and Margaret Holman; Lonnie Hossfeld;
Christy Jacob; Lyle and Ramona Jensen; Corinne Jervis; Shirley Knight, in memory of Mary Henley; Roger Koeppen; Dennis and Joyce Kraus; Dean Krug;
Phil and Debra Lajeunesse; Kent and Jeanette Lanier; in honor of Military Veterans; Robert Lee; D. Craig and Deborah Levering; Wanda Levy, in memory of Anna M.; Robert and Barbara Loop, in memory of MaryLou Stuever Heise; Debra Luft, in memory of Frances Luft and Ruth Yawger;
Sally Maher; Donna Main; Neil and Barbara Marcus, in memory of Paul and Blanche Marcus; Greg Martin, in memory of Winnie; Shirley Martin, in memory of Parents and Kelly Lynn; Gary and Deborah Martinez; Susan Mayer; Errolene McClintick; Barbara McCune; Diana Miller, in memory of Anna McConnell; Wendy Miller; Kent Moxley; G. Keith Murray; Ronald and Patricia Myers; Rosalie Myrtle;
Carl and Sandra Nickles; Louis and Florence Ortega, in memory of Martha Melendez; George and Kimberly Palmer; Linda Peltzer; Gary and JoAnn Pottorff; Donald and Karen Prockish; Betty Regier; L. and Betty Roney; Larry Schwarm and Peg Bicker; Donald and Janet Setser; Suzanne Shields; Steve Sigley; Christen Skaer, in honor of Sedgwick County Animal Response Team;
Beverly Taylor; David and Tracy Wagner; Thomas and Elaine Ware; Jessie La Vaun Waymire; Don and Karen Wells, in memory of Millie Campbell and Pauline Wells; Tom and Ruth Wells; Nadine Williams; George and Patricia Womack; Thomas and Alice Wooldridge; and 58 anonymous contributors.