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Illness deprives Latrobe-area family of both parents' income

| Saturday, Dec. 13, 2003

This Christmas comes at a rough time for a Latrobe-area couple and their two teenage sons. One parent is seriously ill and confined to the home; the other quit work to care for him.

"They've really had their share of bad luck over the last few months," said Darlene Means, of the Salvation Army's Latrobe Community Worship Service Center. "They really aren't going to have a Christmas."

The family's trouble started this fall, when one of the parents was diagnosed with a liver problem. Doctors performed surgery but found a host of other ailments, including heart disease and diabetes. That parent now needs round-the-clock care.

Providing it, Means says, has kept the other from working.

The family has since missed three mortgage payments.

"They're doing the best that they can," Means said. "But they have had no income since September."

The family is private, and proud, and has not told local relatives of their troubles. The two boys help when they can.

"The kids are trying to keep busy," Means said.

Some help will come from Operation Santa Claus. This year the program will pack 7,840 shopping bags with the fixings for a nutritious holiday meal: a $10 gift certificate for a meat of the family's choice, plus scalloped potatoes, stuffing, green beans, whole-kernel corn, fruit-flavored gelatin, fruit cocktail, applesauce, blueberry muffins, snack crackers, holiday cookies and hot cocoa.

In addition, 9,385 stockings will be stuffed with sweets, treats, and books for children ages 12 and younger.

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