After long moments of wondering and asking and praying and thinking and Googling, I’ve figured out what I want to do to try to help James Ford’s family. I hope if his story tugged at your heart, you will consider helping them, too.
Doors have flown open for Melanie and her children since the People magazine article hit the newsstands, and it has been so joyous to watch. His faithfulness to this family has been steadfast, and His work through people from all over the country has been phenomenal. Now smiles are replacing the tears they once cried over the seemingly impossible task of not only getting out of a dangerous living condition, but finding a foothold to start building a real life. After talking to Melanie on the phone and texting back and forth, I can comfortably say, this is a mother who will pay it forward, and James Ford is a kid who is going to do great things.
Some of the ways that I know people have helped already:
- A man in Pinellas Park, Florida has given Melanie a job, and she and her family are moving there on Sunday. That alone is an enormous prayer that has been answered.
- The same man is giving them a place to live in a safe neighborhood where they can all be together. That ten dollar bill is going to have a door over which to hang.
- Beds are being supplied for them to sleep in. Incredibly generous, and just one thing to mark off the list of their immediate needs.
- A friend who read this blog is sending James to basketball camp…with the Orlando Magic! Wow. This will be something he will never, ever forget.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that, as Melanie is not just moving to a new house with her children, she, as any mother would, wants it to be more than that. Every parent wants their children to be able to walk through the door and instantly feel at ease. Living in a one-room motel room in a scary part of town is pretty much the farthest one can get from that. So this move is not just about a roof over their heads and a place to stay safe: it is a new beginning. It is a place where Melanie can foster all of the love and lessons that she already teaches to her kids, but in a place where those kids feel comfortable.
It is a place where she can cook their meals on a real stove and feed them at a real table……….but wait. They don’t have a table.
It is a place where she can wash their clothes and put them, neatly folded, in dressers…..but wait. They don’t have any dressers.
It is a place where she can lie beside them in bed and read them a book, and, as they fall asleep, lay that book on a bedside table……but wait. They don’t have any bedside tables.
It is a place to which she can invite their new friends and have them all sit around the den and lounge on the couch……but wait. They don’t have a couch.
This is where I’ve decided to focus my efforts and help her make her new house a home.
I found a store in Pinellas Park called RoomsToGo. You may have heard of it, as it a chain of stores that sell home furnishings. Cute stuff, not outrageously priced. But the best part is, they have a website and gift cards can be ordered and sent directly to the buyer. This means, you and I and anyone else who might be interested can buy a gift card starting at $25.00 to one store so that Melanie can spend the money she is about to make at her job to get that foothold and not worry about saving up to buy a couch.
If you would be interested in helping them this way, you can go to http://www.roomstogo.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=giftcardhome and purchase a gift card. Presently, as Melanie and her children are in between locations, she doesn’t have a P.O. Box, but you can send them to me at Marsha Weems Stacey, P.O. Box 511, Canton, MS, 39046, and I will put them all together and mail them to her. Or, if it is more convenient for you, you can send money to me via Paypal at MWStacey1054@yahoo.com and I will buy the gift cards for you. I will ensure they get to her safely and quickly.
You may feel any of the following while reading this:
- $25.00 isn’t going to buy them a couch pillow, much less a couch. I hate to send them a gift card that isn’t going to amount to much. Every little bit adds up! I have full faith that through this effort, each card, no matter how big or small, is going to help furnish this home. Maybe you have discussed this story with two or three of your friends. Would you consider asking them to go in with you and get a bigger card? 4 people together…$100.00…awfully big donation.
- I’d rather do something different. Well, you certainly can! Melanie is starting a new job and she can use some business casual clothes. She wears a size 16 or an XL. I believe she would be grateful for any new or GENTLY (very, very gently) used clothes. Again, you can mail them to me or if you are local, I can pick them up, and I will get them to her. She has 6 children, one only an infant. Anything from clothes to toys to coupons for formula and diapers would be a great way to help them out. Now that they have a house, they have room for “things.”
- I don’t know you from Adam’s house cat and I’m not sending you money, gift cards, clothes or anything else unless I can be assured I know it is going to get to the proper place. If you don’t feel comfortable using me as a go-between, message me, and when I have a new P.O.Box for Melanie, you can send things straight to her…and as soon as I know what it is, I’ll update this post with the new address. (See below)
I have a goal in mind for Melanie’s House-to-a-Home fund. I’ll admit….the number I have in my head terrifies me. This is just a little blog. I don’t have thousands of followers, and I have no idea who or how many it reaches. I am just one person, and I realize: this is important to me, and though I know James’ story has moved lots and lots of people, I don’t expect it to mean the same to everyone else. So what if not one single gift card is bought? What if only a fraction of that are bought? I don’t know. All I know is, when God shows out, He shows out big. I’m just going to rest in that and leave it up to the Big Man Upstairs to do with it what He will.
If you decide to donate, I would be honored you would post a comment here with just the words, “I’m in.” This will be one way to show others that donations are, in fact, being made. You don’t need to post an amount. It will be so exciting to see how long this chain of giving becomes.
Last, but certainly not least, would you consider sharing this post with your friends and neighbors….on Facebook, on Twitter, on Linkedin, via email, via text? Any way you can think of to spread the word about this endeavor would be an enormous help. You may not be able to make a donation, but someone you know might.
On their behalf, I thank you in advance. I’m so excited I can hardly see straight.
UPDATE: Melanie has commented here and posted her p.o. box in Orlando. You can mail any gift cards directly to her at:
Melanie Ford, P.O. Box 616405, Orlando, FL 32861