A Very Target Holiday Surprise for Hurricane Families

Los Angeles has been my home since July of 1999.  I moved out here after I finished my MSW program at the University of Pennsylvania with the intention of staying for two years at the very most.  I had recently lost my father.  I needed a change.  I craved new surroundings and warmer weather.  But I never intended to stay.  Of course, that’s the big joke out here.  No one ever really intends to stay forever, but we all do.  For one reason or another, we all plant new roots and adapt to this new lifestyle.

Music keeps our little family here.  In January of 2000, I met the love of my life.  He blew through town on tour with his band.  We met, we ate dinner, and we fell in love.  And then we did what everybody else does.  We had a fairytale wedding, we bought a house, we had a baby, we bought a bigger house, we had one more baby, and, before we new it, we had built a life in Los Angeles.

But pieces, very big pieces, of our hearts will always belong to New England.  We were born there, we were raised there, and, more often than not, we think about ways to spend more time there.  Because home is where the heart is, which means that we have two homes.

To say that watching the destruction unfold as hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut was difficult, is to significantly downplay the emotions we experienced that week.  We worried about my family.  We worried about our friends.  And we worried about people we’ve never even met.  Because when your heart belongs to a place, you worry about that entire place, not just the people that you know the best.

We immediately did as many others did:  We donated money to the Red Cross.  We wanted to ensure that help would be available as soon as practically possible.

But it never feels like enough, does it?

So I reached out to my friends at Target.  Please help me help them.  I need to help them.  The truth is that we all go on with our lives.  Bad things happen, we help where we can, but then we move on.  We don’t have much of a choice.  We all have bills to pay and children to feed.  We all have to-do lists a mile long and family to care for.

But the many, many families who lost nearly everything in that storm?  They don’t have the luxury of just moving on.  They are cold, tired, and displaced.  They are overwhelmed and lacking adequate support.  They are just getting by.  And while the rest of the country prepares to light candles and stuff stockings, these families are just hoping for warm meal.

Take, for instance, the story of the mail carrier and the nurse.  They have two little girls.  They lived in a raised ranch prior to the storm.  Their mortgage company made it a requirement that they buy flood insurance, but when the storm hit…the insurance proved useless.  They have been told that their first floor is considered a basement, and therefore not covered.  In that “basement”?  Kitchen, living room, furnace, washer/dryer, all of the books and toys belonging to those sweet little girls.  And…this family lived paycheck to paycheck before the storm.  Now? They are renting and apartment and trying to get by.

Or, there is the story of the Breezy Point family.  They have three children:  A four year old daughter and infant twins.  They just put the finishing touches on their home before the storm.  Now?  It burned to the ground along with 110 other homes in the area.

I could go on.  I could tell you hundreds of stories just like these.  All of these people are now renting apartments, living with family, or living in shelters.  Hannukah and Christmas?  Where would they even begin?

That’s where Target comes in.  I asked and they answered.  Target sent me 10 holiday gift cards to send to 10 families in need this season.  With the help of my new friend Kerri, who is a saint if I’ve ever met one, I will surprise 10 families this week.

Kerri, out of the goodness of her enormous heart, started Greater Hartford – New York Relief Runs.  For weeks, she has been running back and forth, delivering supplies, helping where she can, and even delivering warm pizzas to families.  She is amazing.

Kerri helped me identify the first 10 families, and Target answered the call to help.

Sadly, we have a list of families that goes on for days.  There are so very many families in need this holiday season.  I don’t know about you, but the thought of children having absolutely nothing to open for Hannukah and Christmas just breaks my mommy heart…

So now I’m asking you.  Will YOU help brighten the holiday season for families in need?  It’s as simple as heading over to Target and purchasing a gift card in whatever amount you can spare this season.  $10, $25, $50???  Every little bit helps, and every child deserves a holiday.

Please, if you can adopt a Sandy family this holiday season, leave me a comment below.  MAKE SURE that I have your email address.  Kerri and I will work together to match families.  You will be given a family and address and you can send that Target card from the comfort of your couch…it’s just that simple.

And also?  Please share this post on your Facebook wall when you get a chance.  The best way to spread the holiday spirit is to come together and help those in need…and our friends in NJ, NY, and CT need us right now.  They really, really need us.

Thank you, Practical readers.  I know I can count on you.

About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)