Published: November 30, 2011
He makes $10 an hour to support four people. She sometimes earns a few dollars babysitting kids from the neighborhood. But the math isn't adding up. "If both of us were working, I think we'd be OK," Walsh says. "I'm out there every day looking for a job, but there just isn't anything. I'm at the point where I'm going to stand out there with a cardboard sign."
The replies poured in for the Craigslist ad. A few were helpful. Most were not.
A gentleman wrote early on and offered his help. "I come to Detroit for business twice a month, maybe you can work out a trade? You help me out with say, a massage and I can get you some things for your kids. Let me know –Jim."
Some were creepy and strange. "You said you need help for christmas if you do i would be more then glad to help if you take house cleaning and tickling," read one.
Others wanted to piggyback on whatever help Walsh might have found. "My name is Dashawna and I have five kids. If you get any back can you send it to me to. Thank you it's hard everywhere."
Another was as kind as it was poorly written. "Dear friend, I wish you a safe and worm holiday wit your kids. I have kids to and it's hard out here. Keep your head up ur kids love you," she wrote.
And one person kept it simple. "Get a job whore and close your legs!" was all they wrote.
Dozens of other replies were similar. "There are a lot of crazy people out there," Walsh says. "And especially if they find out I'm a single mother trying to make Christmas for my kids, that's leaving a window open for all the predators out there, and all of the men, and believe me I got quite a few emails from men — 'If you meet me at this motel and do this for me I'll give you $50 bucks for your kids for Christmas.'"
But a few sincere people replied too, sending lists of local churches offering help around the holidays, places to get food assistance, organizations to help find work. One woman promised to bring clothes by for the children.
In the meantime, Christmas is coming. Walsh will take the kids to see the ornamented tree downtown, do crafts at the Children's Museum, visit Santa at the mall, things that are free. And she'll try to find a way to get them a Christmas tree and a present or two, because her kids know nothing about the utility bills, or the cost of rent, or their mother's troubled life, only that Santa never forgets them.
"I look at my kids and that's everything I've ever done right," she says. "They're expecting Santa to bring them something and we just don't have it. But I'll figure out a Christmas for my kids eventually. It's important to me. My kids deserve that."
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