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Florida Department of Children and Families "Operation Santa Cause" granting Christmas wishes

6:15 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Children and Families is kicking off "Operation Santa Cause" and there are several families in Jacksonville that need your generosity.

"You've got so many people right now who are working and they are working very hard to put food on their table, but they are still in poverty because unfortunately, they are not able to pay for the necessities to live. So we want to do more to assist them," says John Harrell with DCF.

So DCF is reaching out to the community to help make some Christmas wishes come true.

For Peggy Lott and her son, James, one gift could change the way they communicate.

"I found out when he was three that he was going to be some kind of handicapped, but we just weren't sure what kind. Then when he was 10, we finally found out what he had," tells Peggy.

Her now 18-year-old son James has muscular dystrophy. He can't walk or speak and has limited use of his hands and feet, but a teacher at his school figured out a way to better communicate with James using an iPad app.

"If he needs to go to the bathroom, he could just point to bathroom [picture] or eat or drink or sleep. He could just point to what he needs," explains Peggy.

So for her Christmas wish, Peggy is hoping to get an iPad to be able to keep working with her son at home. James already goes through physical, speech and occupational therapies, but even through all of work, Peggy isn't sure how much time she will have with him.

"They say around 40 or 42 [years old], but I see him getting worse and worse everyday, so I am not sure he is even going to make it that far," tells Peggy.

But that isn't what Peggy wants to focus on. She is living in the moment, enjoying every day and every Christmas she gets to spend with her son.

Here are five more stories of need this Christmas season in the Jacksonville area provided to First Coast News by DCF:

Jeanette, a single mother of two children recently gave birth to a child who lived for less than 24 hours. She is caring for several people in her home. These include her 26-month-old autistic son and her husband, who is struggling with epilepsy, making him unable to hold a job. He is still waiting for disability funds. Jeanette is also caring for her older brother, who lives in her home. He is autistic and obese.

She was recently offered a job, but she does not have transportation, and the bus system does not reach her area.

Jeanette's big wish for Christmas would be a working vehicle.  By having a car, she would be able to provide for her household.


A Jacksonville woman has been struggling to support her family. She is now facing major car repairs that she can't afford. She just bought the car, which had been inspected, for $6,000. Two days after the car was purchased, the transmission went out. It turns out that the previous owner had not been getting the oil changed. The cost of repairing the car is $4,000. She cannot afford to pay.

It would be helpful if a dealership could donate the cost of repair or allow her to trade the vehicle in for a comparable vehicle. She can still afford to make car payments, just not the cost of repairs.


Thomas, a 21-year-old man who just aged out of Medicaid insurance, has a painful tooth and needs immediate treatment. But now that he doesn't have Medicaid, he can't afford to pay for it. And Thomas' family also has pressing needs. They lack a stable home.

He and his live-in girlfriend have two daughters. They have bounced from house to house and from motel to motel. They are now living apart -- the girls are staying with their mother in a relative's home, and Thomas is staying with an aunt.

Their oldest daughter, now a year old, was born with her internal organs outside of her body. This has been an ordeal for Thomas, especially since there is no strong family support. He was abused as a young man, and had to be placed in foster care for his own safety.  Unfortunately, he was never adopted. Additionally, due to an arrest record because of his past affiliation with a gang, it has been difficult for Thomas to get and keep a stable home. He is struggling to focus on getting a GED while trying to spend time with his family, find housing and get a job.

Thomas' persistence in sticking with his family during these tough times speaks to his loyalty and his concern for them. His wish is to have a home for his family for Christmas. If he and his family could live rent free for at least eight months, Thomas could focus on employment and school.


An 18-year-old girl aged out of the foster care system without being adopted. Her school's guidance counselor has provided her with a place to stay, but she will soon move out completely on her own.  Although she has been working at a part-time job and has saved some money for an apartment, she still needs help. The only things that she's asking for is a mattress and box spring, lamps for her bedroom and a deposit for JEA utilities.

She is a good young woman, with no issues with juvenile justice, no past history of running away, no drug or substance abuse involvement, and no behavior issues. She is enrolled full-time in college, making all A's and B's, and works a part-time job.


An 8-year-old boy uses a wheelchair because he has Spina Bifida.  His legal guardian is his maternal grandmother, who has cared for him since he as a toddler. We are asking that his family receive assistance in obtaining a wheelchair lift for the grandmother's van.

The boy attends numerous medical and physical therapy appointments at Wolfson Children's Hospital, so having this assistance for transportation would be very helpful.


If you would like to donate or can help any of these families, contact DCF at (904) 723-5448.

For more information about DCF and Partners for Promise visit

First Coast News

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