Mercy's Door teen gets new family for Christmas
Lights and a big red ribbon make a Christmas tree sparkle inside Dalton's Walnut Square Mall. However, you won't see any traditional ornaments on it, instead its decorated with slips of paper each with a name, an age and a couple of Christmas wishes.
"Its not just things that they want but things we know they need," says Paula Malone.
Each slip of paper represents a child or a teenager who's a part of Mercy's Door, a foster care program that provides a safe home for children and teens who are abandoned, abused and neglected.
Malone is the co founder of the program. "When I was 7-years-old my mother was murdered so I know what its like not to be raised by the person who was supposed to raise you," explains Malone.
There's a story behind each name on the tree including one particular 16-year-old. Its her first Christmas as a part of Mercy's Door. For her protection we've concealed her identity, but we can say her wish list isn't long at all.
"Just gift cards for like Wal-Mart, Aeropostale and stuff," she says.
Her name was among the teenagers hanging on the tree but this Christmas she's getting more than what's on her wish list, she's getting a new family.
"I'm excited that a family is accepting me into their family as one of their own but I'm nervous about it at the same time," she says.
While her past may be riddled with heartache, her future is bright. She wants to grow up to be a nurse, a goal that would not have been possible without the love and support from Mercy's Door.
"Without Mercy's Door I'd probably be on the streets and wouldn't have a family, wouldn't have a house. With Mercy's Door I have a stable home, food and a loving family," she says.
If you'd like to donate gifts for kids and teens in Mercy's Door there is still time. You can visit either of the two Christmas trees in the malls in Dalton and Cleveland to pick up a name and information. You can also visit; http://www.mercysdoor.net/.
The deadline to donate is Saturday, December 21.