Photo leads donor to single mother's family

It was setting up to be a very lean Christmas for Soledad Ibarra and her four children.

The single mom had been working full time at a Wichita restaurant, but her hours were cut in half about two months ago. The only gifts she had planned to give her children were what she could make with her hands.

"I tried to save some money," Ibarra said, "but there wasn't enough."

Then last month, The Eagle ran a front-page picture of Ibarra holding her youngest daughter, 4-year-old Yacziry, outside Bread of Life for the Thanksgiving food giveaway.

Both were wrapped in blankets to help ward off the cold, but Ibarra was smiling.

An Andover woman saw the photo and noticed that smile.

"Despite her circumstances," said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, "she still had a cheerful heart."

The woman called Bread of Life and was put in contact with Ibarra. She wanted to give the family a Christmas.

Last weekend, the Andover family, including the couple's 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, delivered their gifts:

Clothes, $50 in gift certificates to a grocery store and a retailer and bicycles for the children — Yacziry; Maylin, 7; Kevin, 9; and Isidro, 14.

"What we've always done with our kids since they were able to understand is that before you get Christmas, you give Christmas," the Andover woman said. "We've always tried to find a family."

She told Ibarra that her family would also be willing to help with other expenses throughout the year.

"I don't know how much we can do," she said, "but we can all do something."

The Andover family also spent time with the Ibarras, including helping the younger children with their bikes and adjusting their helmets.

"My kids left with such a rich feeling," the Andover woman said. "They sat there in the back seat and I said, 'Feels pretty good, huh?' They said, 'Yeah, you can't buy that.'''