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Mother, daughter facing life in homeless shelter

| Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002

Rebecca and her 13-year-old daughter don't know where they will sleep on Christmas Day.

The two haven't had a place they could call their own for months. Finding a job has proved elusive for Rebecca. She has her hands full just making sure her daughter gets to school and that the two will have something to eat at the end of the day.

They have relatives, but none can put mother and daughter up for long. Rebecca's daughter, on the cusp of her teen years, bounces from school to school. Each new set of classmates and teachers blurs into the next. Yet the days seem to drag by.

As the mercury drops and frost dusts the streets, homeless shelters are becoming crammed with bodies desperate for a little warmth. Rebecca and her daughter soon will have to leave the home of a family friend and sleep in one of those shelters.

But spare beds are getting hard to find. Rebecca and her daughter are waiting anxiously for two to open in time.

However, this little family will not go hungry over the holidays.

This year, Operation Santa Claus will be providing Christmas dinner to Rebecca and her daughter, as well as to 7,414 other families in a four-county area served by 26 Salvation Army units. More than 9,000 children also will be presented with holiday stockings.

Each grocery bag contains the ingredients for a complete holiday meal, including a gift certificate valued at $10 for a meat item of the family's choice. Also on the menu, scalloped potatoes, stuffing, green beans, whole-kernel corn, fruit-flavored gelatin, fruit cocktail, applesauce, blueberry muffins, snack crackers, holiday cookies and hot cocoa.

Each stocking contains an assortment of sweets and treats, as well as crayons and activity books suitable for children 12 and younger.

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