Seasons Of Hope: Helping A Family That Lost Everything

SOUTH ST. PAUL (WCCO) — In communities all around Minnesota, there is no shortage of good, hard-working families who just need a little help to get through tough times.

So, in this Season of Hope, WCCO-TV is connecting families in need with those who can help. On Thursday, we met a family from South St. Paul who lost everything — and almost lost each other — after a trailer with all of their belongings was stolen.

Now, however, they’re on the rebound, thanks to a helping hand from a local charity. WCCO’s Chris Shaffer and Liz Collin were there when they got some extra help to make their holidays a little nicer.

“You don’t think you have a lot,” said Kevin Demers, “but when it’s all gone, you really realize how important toothpaste is, you know?”

Sitting with their five kids in their cramped, two-bedroom home, Kevin and his wife, Melissa, talked about the bad break that changed their lives.

“We had moved to Texas to get a new start,” said Melissa. “While we were there, everything we owned was stolen, except the clothes we were wearing and the vehicle we were driving.”

Fortunately, they were able to get together enough money to drive back to Minnesota, but they were homeless. Agency after agency turned them away, because they no longer qualified as state residents, and they were desperate.

“We had come to the decision,” said Melissa, choking back tears, “that we weren’t going to be able to raise our kids, and so we were going to give them over to the state, and we were going to leave.”

As a last ditch, they turned to Sharing and Caring Hands, the charity founded by Mary Jo Copeland.

“She came up and she hugged us,” said Melissa, “and she said, ‘it’s OK, you won’t have to worry anymore. It’s over now.'”

It was the helping hand they needed. Kevin got a job as a machinist, which was enough to pay the rent at their current home. And while Melissa stayed home to take care of Jacob, who has autism, she studied, earning her associate degree, her bachelor’s degree, and this summer, the Masters that will help them turn the corner.

“Sharing and Caring Hands literally kept my family together,” said Kevin.

Times are still tight, though, so WCCO-TV got together with some of our partners to help make their holidays a little brighter.

They got free pizza for a year from Papa Murphy’s, a $100 gift card from Great Clips, and a family pack from some of our other partners, including a stay at the Water Park of America, a family pass to Nickelodeon Universe, a family membership to the Science Museum of Minnesota, tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters and a show at the Ordway Theater.

Then, Sister Nesta from Sharing and Caring Hands came into the room to present a $500 Target gift card, and gifts for the kids from Target, including a camera and a Kindle.

We also had more surprises outside their house: a snow thrower courtesy of the Toro Company and its Twin Cities employees, and a washer and dryer, from Warner’s Stellian Appliance Company.

“It’s really made a difference,” said Kevin. “My children are going to have extra gifts under the tree this year, and they deserve it.”

  • Marge

    Wow, a little over board. A free snow blower. How big of driveway do they have. Maybe shoveling by hand would be a good idea after all the free pizza for a year.

  • Nancy Aleshire

    Give them a break–a snowblower is not considered over the top living in Minnesota. Why not make it a little easier on them? I would love to have a snowblower myself, when I move into my new home and I am 60. I will invest in a good shovel and a snow rake to get the snow off my roof. This family is doing all they can to get ahead. Good story and worthy family.

  • Not Scrooge

    Why do people have to be so caustic in their comments. Like my Grandmother said, if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. However I’ve noticed that most buffoons always have to have their negative input. This family got a break and GOD bless them this year. They obviously didn’t ask for the fate that changed their lives, but they’re on track to get back to supporting themselves and their family.

    • Pate

      Thank you! Constructive criticism is beneficial for the right situation,but this is not one of them.What is wrong with giving someone in need a few extra gifts? Apparently some people think that hard times won’t knock at their door,which is foolish.It can and does happen to the best people,and knocking someone else for being hard up is immature.This family is also working very hard to stay afloat,and I have to say to them,good for you and God bless.

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  • angus

    With all the gifts why to one family? It would be better to split the gifts up among several families and improveChristmas for many people.

    Of course it would not make as good a story for CCO news

  • Jay

    An excellent story. This family was very fortunate to get the help they needed from some VERY generous people who have their hearts in the right place. Im sure theyll pay it forward if given the opportunity. Best wishes and Happy Hollidays!

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