There were big smiles, lots of happy tears and hope for the holidays for many ABC11 families struggling with keeping up with rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, Troubleshooter Diane Wilson showed us how a Cary couple blessed two women with generous monetary donations to keep them from being evicted from their homes. After the story aired, ABC11 viewers reached out, wanting to help others in the same dire need of rental assistance to avoid being put out for the holidays.
One man who reached out to Wilson, she helped before with a problem and he and his wife enjoy paying it forward to others. He heard about a Durham mom's need for help as she already had a court date for eviction after falling months behind on rent. We told you about her struggles and added frustrations as she qualified for the Hope Program, a program run by the state that provides rental assistance.
While she qualified for the rental assistance, her landlord doesn't accept it because of the stipulations. She told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson in November, "I had hope but I don't anymore. Pretty much I have to move, find somewhere to live in the middle of a pandemic."
The loyal ABC11 viewer, who wanted to remain anonymous, wanted to give her hope.
He met Wilson at the woman's apartment complex and walked in with his checkbook and paid off this mom's past due balance, and even paid her January rent; paying more than $5,000 to stop the eviction process so she will not have that to worry about.
We surprised the mom with the news and she broke down in tears too emotional to talk at first. Eventually, she said, "these are happy tears and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, I wish I could hug you." No hugs, but lots of tears. She added through the tears, "this brought me back hope, and that there are still good people in the world that are willing to help, so never give up hope."
She told the generous donor she was going to pay it forward when she got back on her feet.
This same generous viewer also gave hope to a Durham family who fell months behind on their rent due to COVID.
The mom said, "my husband was the first one diagnosed with COVID and then it went through the whole family." She said her twin boys, along with her 10 year-old and herself, all also tested positive for COVID. "That really did put us behind on our household bills and has made a stressful situation and hardship for our family."
To take away that hardship, this man also cut their landlord a check t for $4,800 to cover the past rent and then into January. Their landlord was so happy to get the check saying, "We have not evicted them. We understood they had COVID and they lost their jobs, so we did our part, and we really appreciate you stepping in here."
The family was so relieved to hear the news. "Oh wonderful. We would like to just thank him so much for helping us through this time of need during this holiday season that's definitely a blessing."
The blessings continued for more viewers as several ABC11 viewers that reached out all wanted to remain anonymous, but wanted to help people.
Smithfield resident Mary Sanders is one woman who needed help. She told Wilson, "I'm behind on my rent, I'm trying to get me caught up, and just a lot of stuff I've been praying about."
Her prayers now answered as a viewer cut her a check to cover her rent this month and next. Through tears Sanders said, "thank you all. Everybody involved, god bless you, thank you. That's a blessing that will help, that will help" She was overwhelmed now knowing she can stay in her home. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart, thank you all," she added.
A Raleigh family also cut a check to pay the $1,800 back rent owed by a single mom of three girls in Durham. The mom says she fell behind on the rent after being hospitalized with meningitis.
We wanted to surprise the family with the check, but we couldn't pull off the surprise due to the grim reality of our times. Wilson was scheduled to catch up with the family today needing the rental help to avoid eviction, but sadly she got a text from the mom that she was back in the hospital after testing positive for COVID. Wilson shared the news of the donation with the family and they are very thankful that they now don't have to stress about the unpaid rent.
Several other families were helped with rental assistance thanks to ABC11 viewers and it was so great to see so many smiles and happy tears.
While there are so many people hurting this holiday, it was amazing seeing the generosity of so many ABC11 viewers.
In all this week, viewers donated more than $30,000 to keep families in their homes this Christmas. For those of you who donated, we can't thank you enough.