NEIGHBOURLY GIFTS SAVE FAMILY’S CHRISTMAS Flood of help ‘a miracle’
THIS may be the Stowers family’s best Christmas yet.
Not because of what they will be unwrapping on the big day but because of the people who made it possible.
Mother-of-four Gemma Stowers had accepted the fact that this festive season was going to be a bleak one.
With no extra cash there would be no tree or presents, just stress and guilt over not being able to provide those joys.
‘‘I had a little discussion with my kids about how mummy couldn’t afford to do that this year.
‘‘A few days later I overheard my two oldest in their room trying to be quiet and secretively pool their pocket money together to see if they could buy me a present.’’
She says the sweet gesture broke her heart.
‘‘It’s not something kids should be having to go through.’’
Gemma mentioned times were tough on the social site Neighbourly.co.nz which focuses on connecting communities.
And the response was nothing short of a Christmas miracle, she says.
The Stowers received a Christmas tree complete with decorations, food parcels, movie vouchers, gifts for all the children and even a few for selfless Gemma.
‘‘One of the ladies, who had already done so much for us organising gifts, turned up and said: ‘We’ve got some cash for you’.
‘‘I was just in shock, she had $800.
‘‘I cried and we hugged – there were no words for that moment.’’
Stowers says admitting she needed help isn’t something she would normally do.
‘‘Being a single mother I have to be the strong person who takes on everything so letting your guard down and saying: ‘ I’m not OK’ – it is a hard thing to do.’’
But she says the reality of this year left her no choice.
‘‘I left work after Louis was diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder].
‘‘He wasn’t settling in daycare and home life was hard for all of us so I made the choice to do everything I could for him.
‘‘As a stay-at-home soloparent being on the benefit isn’t easy.
‘‘We’ve all had to come to the realisation that since we moved here, since I stopped working that we have much, much less.’’
She says this ‘‘very merry’’ Christmas won’t be forgotten.
‘‘The words ‘‘thank you’’ don’t seem enough for how grateful I am to these people.
‘‘Next year when we are doing better again I will pay it forward.’’
So grateful: Gemma Stowers has been overwhelmed by the support the Mt Eden community has shown her. Cyrus, 8, and his siblings have presents under their new tree to open tomorrow thanks to the goodwill of their neighbours.