Tyshika Britten knows that Christmas isn't just about presents, but she has six young children— 5 boys and a girl.
Letting them know that Santa wouldn't be putting presents under the tree this year would break their little hearts.
Britten and her fiancé, Donnell Booker, hit a rough patch earlier this year.
Though Booker had a construction job that paid the bills while Britten attended cosmetology school, when Booker's hours were reduced, the couple struggled to make ends meet. They were unable to pay their monthly rent and utility bills. Days before Thanksgiving, their electricity and water were shut off.
The family was likely facing eviction from their home. Britten tells The Washington Post:
“Once one domino fell, they all started falling. Christmas is just breaking my heart. A lot of people say it is not about the gifts. I know that. I know that as an adult. But as a kid, you don’t want to process that.”
Running out of options and without much time, Britten threw a Hail Mary. According to The Washington Post, the 35-year-old mom posted to Craigslist, asking strangers to help her out.
In the post, she wrote:
“I am a mother of six, 5 boys and 1 baby girl... I’m so hurt. I’m trying my best. I pray everyday and now I’m begging for help. I know it's not about the gifts, but they are kids! I’m such a failure right now . . . please help me.”
Britten says she wrote the post because she had “nothing left to lose.” She had no idea the response she would receive in return.
Slowly but surely, packages began arriving on their doorstep.
As The Washington Post reports, people sent clothes, toys, games, and even a PlayStation. One stranger went so far as to send them a furry, four-legged gift— a puppy— which the children fondly named Phoenix.
And recognizing the families plight — he says their situation reminded him of his own childhood — Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder sent a $10,000 check. Vedder tells The Washington Post:
“I was just so moved by the story and what this mother did for her children. I thought those kids must be so proud of their mother for reaching out. That takes a lot of courage.”
Of course there were haters. There were those who accused Britten of exploiting her family for money, to which she replied:
“I’m not exposing my family. I’m exposing how a lot of people have to live. There are people all over this country who have the same problems we have. This is real life.”
But the compassion outweighed the negativity.
Britten says she and her fiancé have always been honest about their financial problems. She knows they “are not perfect people” and that they have made their fair share of mistakes. Despite their issues, however, the mom of six says she always puts her children first:
“I love my children. And I will take care of them, and I will get them what they need, any way I can.”
And this Christmas, it paid off.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family to help cover expenses. Thus far, it has raised over three times the $6,000 goal.