WASHINGTON — A nonprofit from Northern Virginia received an unprecedented number of requests to help fill wish lists from families like Rukengeza Mpengo’s this Christmas.
Mpengo, a single mom, is a nurse’s aide with four kids. They are living in a shelter for women and families until she can find a higher paying job.
Her kids asked for clothes, shoes and toys from Santa — items she would otherwise not have been able to afford.
“It’s like some angel gave us something,” she said.
Cornerstones helps more than 6,000 families each year. During the holidays the organization helps around 1,300 children.
“The Gifts for Kids Toy Drive is really just to make sure families have something, that kids feel normal, and will be able to take part in the holiday spirit,” said Cornerstones CEO Kerrie Wilson.
Wilson said finding affordable housing in Northern Virginia and jobs that pay a living wage can be a real struggle.
“The need has certainly increased in this area, and has been going up every year, and it is something that has us very concerned,” Wilson said.
She said some of the items on wish lists were very basic, such as clothes and shoes. But kids also ask for toys and books.
Mpengo said her children got new clothes, shoes, and gift cards this Christmas, and it made her feel hopeful about the future.
Mpengo said she is hopeful to get a higher paying job in the new year.