Alleigh Palmer is just three months old – and just three weeks away from her first Christmas.
But this fall has been rough for the Palmer family.
“Crazy,” Lexy Palmer says. “Overwhelming. Depressing.”
“So tough,” Chris Palmer says. “Especially since they don’t deserve it.”
“They” are the Palmers’ three children: Raileigh, 3, Christian, 23 months, and Alleigh, three months. Two weeks after Alleigh was born, Chris and Lexy had to move out of their apartment in Galesburg. Their lease said five people was too many to live in their two-bedroom unit.
For six weeks, the family was split up. Chris, Lexy, and Alleigh went to live with Lexy’s mother.
Raileigh and Christian stayed with family friends.
The separation wasn’t easy.
“I cried,” Chris says.
“A lot,” Lexy adds.
Now the family is living in a once-abandoned trailer in Galesburg. It’s taken a lot of money just to make it livable.
“We had to borrow some money from some people, then pay them back,” Lexy says. “And then every last thing – penny – we had was going into paint, trim, the bathtub…the paneling to fix the wall in our bedroom.”
Lexy says it’s been tough on the kids.
“It’s stressful on them,” she says. “You can tell. That’s why I wanna give them a good Christmas.”
The Palmers are just one of thousands of families in West Michigan struggling this holiday season – and the number of families in need is growing.
“We’re a little concerned about that,” Salvation Army Major Sherrie Welch says, “because we want to make sure we have plenty of toys to provide for the children, food to give to the families, but the need continues to increase.”
So families like the Palmers come into the Christmas season unsure of how happy the holidays will really be.
“At this rate, I’m not gonna be able to give them any kind of Christmas,” Chris says.
“I can’t buy any presents,” Lexy adds. “I don’t have any extra money.”
“We just need gifts for the kids, she says. “Clothes, stuff for them.”
“I’m not real worried about me. I’m just worried about them having a Christmas.”