There are four special young ladies in Travis Thompson’s life, and their names all start with D: Danasia and Daziah, Dynasty and Destiny. They’re two sets of twins, ages 9 and 4.
Thompson, 34, is a single dad. And as you’d imagine, life gets a little crazy sometimes with four girls in the house. There are cheerleading practices and basketball games on the calendar. Homework to help with, and lots of singing and dancing, day and night.
“It can be stressful at times, but I don’t let it get to me,” Thompson says. “As long as the kids are happy.”
Thompson has worked as a forklift operator for the Boy Scouts of America’s distribution center on Westinghouse Road since graduating from high school 16 years ago. He works hard, but money is tight, he says.
Especially in December.
The younger twins turn 5 on Dec. 22, and although birthdays are joyous occasions, they’re an added financial – and emotional – stress for dad.
So when he learned that all his girls would qualify for Christmas gifts through the Salvation Army’s Christmas program, supported by the Charlotte Observer’s Empty Stocking Fund, he signed them up.
Thompson’s four girls will be among more than 10,700 children who will be “angels” on Angel Trees in area malls and businesses this month. Angels’ wish lists can be granted by local residents, and starting Dec. 15, parents such as Thompson will pick up their children’s gifts, stockings filled with goodies and a box of food at the Salvation Army’s Christmas program headquarters on Arrowood Road.
Angels not plucked from area trees, those not returned, or ones returned with too few gifts (these number in the thousands most years) get their wishes granted courtesy of the Observer’s Empty Stocking Fund.
Last December was especially tough for Thompson, he says. It was his first holiday season with full custody of his daughters. After giving the youngest ones a birthday celebration, there wasn’t much money leftover for Christmas.
“Last Christmas the girls were happy with the things they got, but I felt like I wasn’t able to do what I was supposed to do,” he says. “I wasn’t able to get them everything they wanted.”
He had mixed feelings about asking for help this year.
“I was hesitant to go, but it’s not for me. It’s for my girls,” he says. “They’re only a kid once.”
His bed is set up next to the couch in the living room of the tidy two-bedroom bungalow he shares with his girls in west Charlotte; each set of twins has their own room. “The little room we do have, everything is girlie. But I love it,” he laughs.
The little ones, Dynasty and Destiny, enjoy singing and would love a microphone or karaoke machine from Santa. The older twins, Danasia and Daziah, like arts and crafts, making slime, and are starting to dabble in makeup.
They’re a busy family. Tuesdays and Thursdays the older girls have cheerleading practice at Victory Christian Center, and they cheer at games on weekends. Thompson’s mom and grandmother pitch in a lot in the child care department – each of them takes a set of twins to and from school.
This Christmas, Thompson and the girls will open their gifts and head over to grandma’s house, where they’ll play with their toys and have dinner.
Knowing his daughters will get some of their wishes fulfilled by strangers is making his hectic days a little easier, he says.
“This is a blessing,” he says. “Whatever we get, I’m thankful for every little bit.”
Empty Stocking Fund
The Charlotte Observer has sponsored the Empty Stocking Fund since about 1920. In recent years, Observer readers have contributed an average of nearly $370,000 annually to buy needy children gifts for Christmas. All of the donations go to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau, which buys toys, food, clothing and gift cards for families. To qualify, a recipient must submit verification of income, address and other information that demonstrates need. For five days in mid-December, up to 3,000 volunteers help distribute the gifts to families. We’ll publish all donors’ names. If the contributor gives in someone’s memory or honor, we’ll publish that name, too. Contributors can remain anonymous.
How to help
To donate online: www.charlotteobserver.com/living/helping-others/empty-stocking-fund/article116262948.html. Send checks to: The Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte, NC 28237-7269. Questions about your donation: 704-358-5520. For helping families through the Salvation Army: 704-714-4725.