SUNBURY — Melanie Vega-Berlingen has been raising her daughters alone for the past five years and just secured a full-time job last week.
"I started working a week ago caring for the elderly," said the mother of two girls ages 11 and 8.
Before that Vega-Berlingen took odd jobs, like babysitting, to pay the bills.
"It was a long time" before she finally landed a steady job with a regular paycheck.
"I feel better. I have no more depression," she said.
Despite enduring difficult financial times, Vega-Berlingen said she has had much support from her mother and community.
She signed up for the Salvation Army's Needy Family Fund, sponsored by The Daily Item, Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. and Mifflinburg Bank & Trust to help ease the burden at Christmas.
"I try to do everything myself but sometimes I don't have money to buy presents," she said.
Since 1987, the Salvation Army’s Needy Family Fund, sponsored by The Daily Item, Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. and Mifflinburg Bank & Trust, has raised more than $2.9 million during the holidays to assist the Valley’s less fortunate. It is administered by Salvation Army citadels in Milton and Sunbury.
This year’s goal is $100,000. Today's total is $10,975 thanks to a $4,210 transfer from BB&T Bank's final fund balance from 2018; $10,000 from Degenstein Foundation; $125 from John Klopf, of Lewisburg; and $750 from John and Barbara Pagana, of Selinsgrove. There were also $100 in anonymous donations.
Donors can make checks payable to The Needy Family Fund and mail or drop them off to any location of program co-sponsor Mifflinburg Bank & Trust. Donors can also mail a check to 250 E. Chestnut St., Mifflinburg, Pa., 17844, or donate online at https://www.mbtc.com.