Monday, December 21, 2009

Mentors Give Local Families Holiday Help

Amachi is a Nigerian Ibo word meaning “who knows what God has brought us through this child.”

For some Pittsburgh families, though, it might translate to a little holiday respite from a tough economy and a parent in jail.

That’s because the mentoring group Amachi Pittsburgh has been gathering toys to donate to families with an incarcerated parent.

Parent Leeann Sasala says she was driven to volunteer for the group, because they helped her children regain their esteem after their father got a life sentence.

“When you lose a father, it’s very hurtful,” says Sasala. “They help me and I want to help them back.”

Sasala guided similar parents around a room full of toys to see which would fit their child best this year. But Executive Director Anna Hollis says while getting a toy is nice, it doesn’t replace a parent.

“It’s not just something they feel at Christmastime,” says Hollis. “It’s that overwhelming sense of loss and abandonment that kids feel when their parent has been taken away from them.”

Volunteer Sharon Humphreys says Amachi received almost 500 toys from Toys for Tots and other sponsors.

If you’re interested in the Amachi Pittsburgh program, visit their website.

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