FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2012
Central Media Relations Director
Orlando, Fl. - The Florida Department of Children and Families officially kicked off Operation "Santa Cause" yesterday in an effort to help make a significant impact in the lives of a handful of Central Florida's most inspiring as well as deserving families. The statewide campaign was announced featuring a dozen scenarios in which the community has the opportunity to make a wonderful difference this holiday season. The campaign is a first for the state's leading social service organization with the hope of partnering alongside citizens and organizations looking to spread holiday goodwill. Operation "Santa Cause" highlights families from across the state, but also local Central Floridians facing hardships related to adoption, domestic violence, homelessness, illness and or financial setbacks beyond their control. As a compliment to the statewide campaign, local Department officials have expanded the initiative to profile select Central Florida families or persons along with their stories during the weeks of December hoping to make some extreme wishes come true. "Social service organizations make such a tremendous impact on children and their families year round, but there are those occasions, when the need is so great, that we have to turn to other organizations or rely on the kindness of strangers. We cannot do it alone and hope that this initiative creates opportunities for those wanting to give back this time of year in a big way," says local DCF Region Managing Director Bill D'Aiuto.
The first two of six Operation Santa Cause families are below. The Peete family is available today! Visit blog.myflfamilies.com/2012/12/operation-santa-cause/ for more info on Operation Santa Cause.
Felicia Peete adopted a sibling group of four children in 2009 after raising four grown biological children of her own as a single parent. Shortly after the adoption, the eldest of the four became ill. He was diagnosed with a degenerative genetic disease called Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). He died within months at the young age of 8. Not long after, the second eldest child was also diagnosed with the same disorder. Within months, he too passed away at just age 8. Currently, the third youngest child, who is now 6, is undergoing treatment for ALD. His sister, who is also a carrier of the disorder, is the only child in the foursome who has not become ill.
Ms. Peete was unable to maintain her full-time employment given the ongoing hospitalizations and medical needs of her children. Although she received adoption subsidies for the kids, the expense to bury her two sons within such a short period placed additional hardships on the family. Ms. Peete now works from her home but at a significant reduction of pay; yet this arrangement allows her to care for her son who requires nearly hourly medication. It also means that she can stay at home with her son since he is unable to attend school in a classroom while undergoing treatment.
Ms. Peete notes the holidays are especially difficult and is not able to provide as she would like for the holidays for her children. Even so, her spirit remains strong and grateful for the times she has and continues to have with her children.
Assistance: Financial assistance to alleviate the outstanding $1700 in funeral expenses, $500 to cover the cost of the family’s holiday gifts which remain on layaway at Kmart. The family also could benefit from excursions or local activities that they could enjoy together such as Chuck E Cheese, water or theme parks. Specific wish list items for the children included an iPod, iPad and various clothing, contact Kristi Gray at Kristin_Gray@dcf.state.fl.us for more details.
Ms. Linda is a disabled adult in Marion County in desperate need of a new roof as well as help removing and cleaning mold from her residence. She is unable to afford the cost. Her roof leaks severely when it rains which has led to severe mold growth and has become detrimental to her health. Even though alternative housing has been offered, this senior does not want to leave her home, yet does not have the means to cover the costs of such repair. Although concerned, social service organizations cannot force her from her home and are now asking for the community’s help. Even with partner organizations wanting to step in, it has been determined that the conditions of the home must first be improved for the safety of the resident as well as social workers. Her case manager continues to follow-up on potential leads in the community for assistance, but has been unable to identify an entity willing to assist with a new roof.
Assistance: Mold removal and cleanup, new roof.
Department point of contact is: Kristi Gray at Kristin_Gray@dcf.state.fl.us