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Struggling Parents Turn to Surprising Place for Help This Christmas

It's certainly not news to hear that American families are struggling. Most are living paycheck to paycheck and nearly half wouldn't be able to come up with $400 to pay for an emergency. It's a sad reality that is especially heartbreaking during the holiday season. While many parents are loading up on gifts to put under their tree, there are just as many trying to figure out how to explain why Santa Claus won't be visiting their house this year.

Tyshika Britten, a mom of five, is one such parent. Devastated by the idea that her kids would wake up Christmas morning without a single gift, the hairstylist turned to Criagslist to plea for help.

"I'm so hurt," she wrote. "I'm trying my best. I pray every day and now I'm begging for help. I know it's not about the gifts, but they are kids! I'm such a failure right now ... please help me."

It's hard not to feel for this struggling mom and others like her. Nonprofits and food pantries say they can't keep up with the demand for aid this season.

As a result, overwhelmed poor and working class families across the country are turning to Craigslist. Just a quick search reveals dozens in nearly every major metropolitan area. One mother's Christmas savings were stolen by an abusive, angry ex. A wheelchair-bound mom asked for help with Christmas dinner. Another expressed that her kids wouldn't even mind waiting until after Christmas for a gift from a good-hearted stranger.

So far Britten has received two responses: a women who asked for more information but never wrote back and a man that seemed to be more interested in her body type than her children. She quickly turned down his help. It's further evidence that seeking aid online isn't without potential problems.

Respondents don't know if a plea is for real, or some kind of scam. And those who post the ads have no way of discerning who legitimately wants to help or who may have sinister intentions. Still, it's worth the risk for moms like Britten. Turned away by other service agencies and charities, she feels she has no choice but to ask the public.

“I wouldn’t sit here and do this if I didn’t have to,” she told the Washington Post. “I’m willing to do anything I have to do for my children. I’m tired of struggling. I’m tired of them struggling. I just want them to be happy.”

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