As the sisters got together and brainstormed what we could do this holiday season, we threw around a lot of ideas – 12 days of fudge recipe, our favorite Christmas cookies, even 12 days of giveaways . . . but nothing felt right. Then we had a new idea- what if we found 12 families who could use a little bit of extra help and love this holiday season?
Last year we were blown away by the thoughtfulness of our readers as we helped one family who was going through a hard time, so this year we decided that we would go a little further and help 12 families! To us, we feel the most joy when we focus on what the holidays are really all about and we believe that the true meaning of Christmas is to love and serve others. With that being said, we are so excited to bring to you our 12 Days of Giving Back!For the next 12 days, we will be introducing you to 12 different families who were nominated by our readers as people who could use a little extra help this during this time. We received HUNDREDS of nominations and each story touched our hearts. The 12 that we chose really had an impact on us and we knew that we needed to help them.
Day 10: The Gentry Family
Meet the Gentry family. First off, let’s state the obvious…aren’t they a gorgeous family? They’re the type of family you wonder “HOW do they do it!?” The kids are all amazing, well behaved, kind and darling. No doubt it is because of the parents they have! Might I add, this family is not one to ask for help. EVER. They are too busy helping other people. Suzanne is the type of person who comes over (even though you say NO) and cleans your toilets when you decide to move the week after you have twins. Yes, my toilets. Talk about willing to serve. They’re super involved in the our small town community, and church and I think just about everyone knows they can call a Gentry if they need something done!
The story of this family is a unique, inspiring one. The burdens they have faced in the past few years were chosen. They prayerfully accepted the sacrifices which were to be asked of them simply because their hearts were so full of love and they wanted to help. I’ve personally been so touched by watching the process and know you will be too.
Chuck and Suzanne have known each other since 1st grade. High school sweethearts, they married a few years post graduation and have been married for 18 years! Chuck works in law enforcement and Suzanne is a stay at home mom. The Gentrys have been blessed with 5 biological children. Ranging in ages from 16 years old to 7 years old. The kids are super involved in school, church and community – including raising hogs this summer for FFA. They definently have been taught the value of hard work!
Thier unique family journey begins about 7 years ago. Through Chuck’s job in law enforcement,they were approached with information about a struggling family member,who was facing jail time. She had a 3 month old daughter, Maria. At the time, Chuck and Suzanne had no interest in becoming foster parents. They already had their plate full with 5 young kids. As the situation worsened and the safety of Maria was in question, they were faced with a decision. Should we become foster parents to this 3 month old baby girl, who was only 3 weeks older than their own baby daughter? SIX kids under 8 years old?! After much prayer, they had an overwhelming answer become foster parents to her.
They knew that it was a completely unpredictable situation. She could be in their home a month or two or, much longer. They knew their family would love her and become attached to her just like their own baby sister. It was a very vulnerable time. The family did decide to take Maria and make her a part of the family. Maria stayed until she was 1 ½ years old. On Valentine’s Day 2008, the state placed her back with her mom and contact was lost. It was completely devastating to lose her! The kids were confused, hurt and brokenhearted! Chuck and Suzanne tried their best to help them understand and reassure them that everything happens for a reason. They tried to be thankful for the time they did have with her.
Over the next few years, they always thought of her and worried, hoped and prayed she was happy and healthy. Since that time, Maria’s mom has had more children and more struggles. Severe drug use of the mother (even during pregnancy) led to more jail time, and as a result the kids were often passed around with no stable environment. The kids faced extreme neglect with little to no toys, clothing, or even food.
The Gentrys were confronted with another big decision. Did they have the strength to do it all over again — times 4?It brought back old feelings of hopelessness and the feelings of loss. They were torn between how they could best help these children, who needed a loving home and by what was best for their existing family. As a family, they decided no matter what the sacrifice they had to help these children!
Suzanne in particular felt the heavy weight of uncertainty bearing on her and was unsure she was even capable of taking care of 9 children under the age of 15. The cooking! The cleaning! The discipline! The laundry! Chuck worried about providing financially for a larger family.They knew it would be a huge, life changing commitment and there would be an enormous shift in the dynamics of family life. Everyone would need a lot of love, patience, and understanding.
After some prayer and meditation, they knew they needed to be the home and family these kids deserved. Even if it was only for a short time!
These kids deserved a chance.
The Gentrys have now added a 7, 5, 4, and 2 1/2 year old to their family since October 2012. The kids were all academically and socially behind. There have been major emotional issues to help them deal with; however due to lots of love and time, the kids are making MASSIVE improvements.
Two and 1/2 months ago, the courts gave permission for all four kids to be adopted. It will be final soon and they will always be a part of a wonderful family!
The blessing of these children is just that – a blessing and never a burden. Chuck works diligently in law enforcement with long hours and constant risk of life to provide for his family; nonetheless, 9 kids on a law enforcement salary can be difficult. The family has added beds, clothes, toys, medical needs, food etc, etc to provide for the needs of all the kids. The WHOLE family has given up many things to be able to help these children.
And the most humbling part?
The family chose to sacrifice in order to help 4 little children in need! 4 little children who would never have a family. Never have a Christmas.
I know any sacrifice YOU might choose to make would mean the world to this family. That’s what this Season is about after all, right? Sacrificing a little of our own to help make others’ days a little brighter. I know that is what your contribution will do for these 9 kids.
All money donated during the 12 Days of Giving Back will go directly to the families and the specific bank accounts that they have set up through PayPal. All families chosen for this have been thoroughly screened and we feel you can donate confidently, knowing that your donation is going to a most-deserving family.