Sheri Brown met a woman last year outside RadioShack, and it appeared, as Brown puts it, "the world had dropped on her."
She was pushing a teen in a wheelchair while her other child carried a bag. Her husband, she explained, had just told her he couldn't deal with a special-needs child and walked away from the family, leaving her with nothing and devastating both girls.
"I gave her a hug and told her we would make sure her children received some merry Christmas memories and things would get better," Brown said.
She invited the family to the annual Cookson Hills Toy Run, where needy kids are treated to gifts in a picnic-style setting. The event will be Dec. 2 this year. Organizers are seeking holiday gifts for special-needs children, newborns to age 18, in Brandon, Seffner, Mango, Thonotosassa, Dover, Valrico, Riverview, Gibsonton and east Plant City.
A 20-mile country ride starts at Veterans Memorial Park, U.S. 301, Tampa, and ends at Evans Park, 1104 N Kings-way Road, Seffner, where you can help hand out gifts starting at 2:30 p.m. A barbecue dinner will follow. For information, call Brown at (813) 643-5758 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The woman Brown met last year emailed to say she's doing better and asked if she and her church could help.
"We told her the extra help would be greatly appreciated," Brown said.