Family left homeless by Hurricane Sandy gets apartment for Christmas

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A Santa Ana family who spent the last two years in hotel rooms and on the streets is celebrating Christmas in a home of their own this year. (KABC)

A family who spent the last two years in hotel rooms and on the streets is celebrating Christmas in a home of their own this year.

On Wednesday morning, a parade of police officers, firefighters and Mr. and Mrs. Claus made a special delivery of gifts to Joshua and Kathleen Sayong and their three daughters -- 16-year-old Leila, 10-year-old Keila and 6-year-old Melyssa.

"Heartwarming to see everybody coming for them and our family," Kathleen said.

The family lost everything in Hurricane Sandy and moved to Orange County to seek treatment for Melyssa's leukemia. Kathleen is a cancer survivor and Keila is autistic.

Money quickly ran out, so they lived on the streets or in hotel rooms, working part-time jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. It wasn't until last month that the Santa Ana Police Department and the non-profit Serving People In Need gave the family keys to a new apartment.

"Such a blessing to see them now stable and out of the hotel cycle, the in-your-car-and-out-of-your-car cycle," said Ladeshia Goubert with Serving People In Need.

Melyssa and her parents take the bus five times a week to the hospital for aggressive chemotherapy. Her fight inspired law enforcement and a local charity to help make Christmas extra special for them.

"The Christmas families are really fun to do, because it's not just the sick child but the entire family," said Theron Reed with the Debbie Chisolm Memorial Foundation.

Eyewitness News viewers also wanted to help. After our story ran last month, people donated furniture, money and gifts to the family.

Some of the presents filling the Sayong's home also came from ABC7's Spark of Love toy drive.

The family says no words can express their gratitude for not just the gifts, but also the community's willingness to help them and others in need.

"You guys are all family and that's just the most important thing and getting the word out to other families that there is help," Kathleen said.


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familyholidaychristmasdonationshomelessspark of loveu.s. & worldCalifornia
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