Homeless On The Holidays

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What does your child or grandchild want for Christmas this year? 

That’s a question many people are asking, but for some kids, Christmas only comes with presents if people donate gifts. 

KELOLAND News sits down with a family struggling to make ends meet during what’s typically the jolliest time of the year.

“Being homeless is really hard when you have a young child and nowhere to go,” Camil Branson said.

This is not where Branson ever expected to be with her nine year old son–homeless and searching for a warm place to stay. 

“We were in a bad situation living with relatives, and it wasn’t working out,” Branson said.

The single, working mom ended up finding shelter at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House in Sioux Falls. 

“It’s good to have a place to go that’s warm. I can keep working, and he can go to school without taking time off,” Branson said. 

She’s talking about nine-year-old Owen. He’s been finding ways to stay busy at Bishop Dudley, but Christmas won’t come with a bunch of new toys. Owen says that doesn’t make him feel like one of his favorite characters, The Grinch. 

“Nope. It makes me unique,” Owen said.

Instead he’s thankful for his hard-working mother and several organizations that are donating gifts to him this holiday, including a local family who is sponsoring him through The Bishop Dudley, Sioux Falls Cares, and his mom’s co-workers.

“He knows we’re very thankful for everything. He knows how hard life is with Mom being his only provider,” Branson said.

For those who are celebrating the holidays at the shelter, O’Gorman students have tried to make it a little bit brighter by decorating trees throughout Bishop Dudley.

“It is especially difficult around the holidays to be homeless,” Development Coordinator Amanda Stidd said.

Stidd says the seven family rooms are usually full. The men’s and women’s sections right now are over-capacity–anywhere from 10 to 30 people. You’ll find extra cots set up, so they don’t have to turn people away.

“A lot of the families who come to us are experiencing any form of crisis from a job loss to medical bills that become overwhelming to divorce or loss of a parent or spouse,” Stidd said.

The average family stays at the shelter for 45 days. For this mother and son, it will be a little less. They came here the day before Thanksgiving and have a new apartment just in time for Christmas. 

“It’s very exciting to have our own place for Christmas. We love having an apartment so we can make cookies and brownies, so we’ll make turkey and all of the fixings,” Branson said.

While Branson says it’s one of the best gifts they could get, Owen says his time at the shelter will be something he’ll always remember.

“A new experience,” Owen said. 

An experience his mother hopes is behind them.

“Being homeless is really hard. I’m very thankful for The Dudley. I don’t know where else we would have gone,” Branson said.

A bright light for those facing difficult times during the holidays. 

If you would like to help those in need this holiday season, here’s information about items needed at Bishop Dudley.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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