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A special Christmas for a former homeless family, thanks to generosity of others

TACOMA, Wash. — Single mother Gauula Lelea, 24, used to be homeless. But not anymore.

We introduced you earlier to the Lelea family and Mary’s Place, a leading provider of emergency shelter and services for homeless families, which has a “diversion” program that puts up almost $2,000 on average to cover first and last month’s rent and the damage deposit to get families into a new apartment or home.

Lelea was downsized, lost her job, and became homeless.

“My concerns were my kids. How was I going to feed them?” Lelea asked. “Where were we going to sleep?”

She found Mary’s Place and entered the diversion program, while landing a new job in collections paying her $13 an hour.

Through the program, Mary’s Place provided the $1,800 needed to move her and her kids, ages 2 and 4, into a new apartment.

“I was crying at work,” Lelea says about the moment she learned the news she was getting her own apartment, “I was crying because I didn’t think it was going to happen.”

There was no furniture in the apartment. The family slept on blankets on the floor.

But that changed this Christmas.

Q13 News anchor Matt Lorch and his daughter delivered two new bicycles and dozens of toys, and a generous Q13 News viewer donated furniture for the apartment.

Now they are enjoying a very special Christmas, thanks to Pierce County Toys for Tots and a generous Q13 News viewer.

"I didn't think it was gonna be like this this year," she said. "But obviously everything changed for the better."

If you want to help, just go to nochildsleepsoutside.org.

Mary’s Place takes new approach to get homeless families into stable housing