GLENDALE — Elizabeth Rosales and her five children had a rough year.
The 25-year-old mother, whose children range in age from 1 to 10, hasn’t been able to find a job; the $750 she gets from welfare each month goes to rent; and her mother is in the hospital with fluid in her lungs, heart and kidneys.
So Glendale Memorial Hospital and Medical Center’s donation Tuesday of toys and several boxes of food came as a huge relief.
“They have been asking for things for Christmas,” she said.
“It’s good that they helped us because we don’t have enough money to buy gifts for the kids.”
But it was the food that was crucial for Rosales, who was considering going to the Salvation Army of Glendale to get bags of groceries for the family, she said.
Her children’s teachers and the staff members at Cerritos Elementary School knew about the family’s struggles, so they selected Rosales and 16 other families to get Christmas gift donations from the hospital this year as part of school’s annual Adopt-a-Family program.
“We try to help the families that are in the greatest need,” said Melinda Perez, the school’s community liaison.
The list of families getting gifts changes every year but is always full, she said.
“This is about giving these families a Christmas that they may not have been able to give themselves,” Perez said.
Cerritos has a large number of low-income families, with 87.6% of its pupils enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program, Principal Janice Hanada said.
“That’s a high level of poverty,” she said.
The hospital and school have been working together for 14 years to get needy Glendale families gifts for Christmas, said hospital program coordinator Bonnie Butler-Sibbald.
The hospital’s 30 departments were each assigned a family to buy gifts for this holiday.
Some employees pitched in money for the gifts, bought gift cards or bought a gift themselves, Butler-Sibbald said.
The hospital purchased about $10,000 worth of gifts, clothing and food, she said.
The hospital generally doesn’t buy items such as soap or toothbrushes, preferring to give things like CDs or lotions, items the families wouldn’t normally buy, she said.
But more food and grocery store gift cards were donated this year because the need for food was great, she said.
“We try to buy little-bitty luxury items,” she said.
Many families don’t want other people to know they are struggling, so the hospital schedules staggered times to pick up gifts from the school, Butler-Sibbald said.
But for Rosales, it’s a struggle every day.
“It’s been really hard,” she said.