“My parents were both involved in drugs and alcohol. My father would take his anger out on me – hitting me, calling me names, telling me I was worthless. My mother took off with some guy and left me.

I was tired, hurting physically and mentally most of the time and had no one to turn to. My life has been very hard and at 16 years old, what could I do to change my life? One tough day at school, I couldn’t control it anymore and I broke down. The guidance counselor helped me get safe and back on track with school, which is how I came to find Youth On Their Own.

All my life, the holidays have been a sad time for me. No one ever cared enough about me to give me a gift. Last year, I got two gift cards to Target for $10 each from YOTO, and I couldn’t believe it. I bought jeans and a new shirt on sale. It made me feel so special to get these gift cards in a card that was written to me. No one had ever given me a card before. I’d like to thank the Youth On Their Own supporters who made the gift cards possible. This was my best Christmas ever. I never in my life have had anyone care about me until now.”