Brianna Washington is a 30-year-old single mother of eight from Detroit who simply wants to be able to provide for her children and to be self-sufficient again.
The multitude of challenges and hardships the family have faced include eviction due to a landlord going into foreclosure, being denied Section 8 housing and Washington losing her job.
Then, her Dodge Caravan was stolen twice within weeks and stripped of nearly everything, making it impossible for Washington to take her four sons and four daughters anywhere. Tragically, Washington's 7-year-old son, Javeon, was leaving a friend's house when he was hit by a car. Despite Medicaid, the family is unable to pay the medical bills. Their current house is listed as foreclosed as well.
On top of that, Washington still is struggling to find work. Receiving financial assistance both from her children's father and the state Department of Human Services helps but covers only rent and some basics, Washington said. "We're living day to day. We're just barely making it."
Besides repairing the van, Washington hopes to find bedding, winter clothing and a computer for her kids to complete their homework.
"I just would like for my kids to have a decent Christmas -- to wake up and have something," Washington said. "They all get good grades. They really hung in there through everything. They have been awesome."
That's where Volunteers of America Michigan, a nonprofit human service agency, comes in. The Detroit News is working with Volunteers of America Michigan in Helping Hands, its program to connect low-income families with aid this holiday season.
Volunteers of America's Adopt a Family program, which supplies families with donated clothes, toys and food, is seeing a record number of applicants -- 9,500.
The program matches families with a sponsor who can work directly with them to donate needed items, or sponsors can send in $150 donation for gifts. The program hopes to help 4,000 families this holiday season.