Sunday, December 31, 2000

Readers help needy through Wish List

Single mom thankful for gift of dressers

By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Karen Harris-Fleming received dressers for her five sons after her story appeared in the Wish List.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        When dressers for her five sons arrived before Christmas, Karen Harris-Fleming rejoiced that her family members no longer would have to keep their clothes in plastic bags.

        “I was so happy, I just didn't know what to do. I acted like a little kid,” the 37-year-old West End woman said.

        In early December Ms. Harris-Fleming's story appeared in the Wish List, an annual project for the needy that is sponsored by the Enquirer and administered by United Way. The single mother is battling breast cancer, cataracts and sarcoidosis, a disease that spreads scar tissue inside her lungs and heart.

        A donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, read about Ms. Harris-Fleming's plight and, with help from a home-improvement store, arranged for the dressers to arrive Christmas Eve.

        “We really needed them,” Ms. Harris-Fleming said. “I am so thankful.”

        To this point, $187,090 has been received from 2,200 Wish List donors. At the same point last year, 2,029 people had donated $179,657. Besides cash gifts, many people have donated merchandise.

        Other people featured in the Enquirer's Wish List series have been helped as well:

        • Linda Eppler of Clermont Senior Services received nearly 50 calls from people offering to help Helen Matthey, an 83-year-old Clermont County resident who has outlived her husband and two sons. She no longer owns the farmhouse that has been her home since the 1950s, but a life estate agreement allows her to stay there as long as she wishes.

        Donors have provided Mrs. Matthey with the electrical upgrade her home needed, as well as a water heater, refrigerator and other items. There also have been numerous offers to paint her home in the spring, and a school group wants to help with yard work.

        “I was overwhelmed,” Mrs. Matthey said. “This was the best Christmas ever.”

        • In Williamstown, Alfred Russ, who suffers from a variety of ailments, now has a lift chair that makes it easier for him to sit and stand, as well as grab bars in his bathroom that help steady him.

        “The swelling has gone down in my legs and feet,” said Mr. Russ, attributing the improvement to the chair, a gift from Jenny Jarvis of Colerain Township. The chair originally was for her mother, who recently died and never used it.

        Mrs. Jarvis also provided clothes for Mr. Russ' granddaughters, who live with him. And she and her son, Nick Geiser, delivered the lift chair personally.

        “It made us feel good making them feel good,” Mrs. Jarvis said.

        The grab bars were bought and installed by Becky Carmack and her fiance, Jeff Shad, of Delhi Township.

        After wishes are granted to those profiled in the newspaper, remaining money will be distributed to participating social-service agencies to meet the emergency needs of clients throughout the year.
        Wish List home page

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