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Hundreds benefit from toy store

December 14, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- Adele Ferguson knows what it is like to struggle. To not have two nickels to rub together. To have to decide between whether to buy gas or groceries.

As a single mother in Pontiac more than 40 years ago, at Christmastime she did not have the resources available to her that are available today to residents in need in this area.

She received welfare, but for the two years she was on her own with her oldest child, there was no turkey or ham for holiday dinners. Instead, there was soup for her and her son. Toys and time to spend with him were scarce as she worked three jobs to keep them afloat. She had no Christmas tree and picked up used things at garage sales for gifts. Ferguson had a second son during that time and when he was 3-months-old, unable to care for two children alone, she made the decision to allow another family to adopt the baby.

Not long after, she met her husband, Maurice. They wed after dating three weeks, had two more children, and in 1976, built a home here in the township. Maurice put Adele through college and she taught adult education for 14 years in the Brandon School District and started the CHOICES program, which is now known as the Brandon Alternative High School before retiring. Three years ago, on Christmas Eve, she met the son she gave up for adoption. They have developed a close relationship and he calls her "Mom."

Ferguson feels wealthy now, but she has never forgotten what it is like to struggle, and with that in mind, she was one of 50 volunteers and countless donors to help make sure that 229 children in this community have a merry Christmas.

"I am so overwhelmed with the generosity of the people in this community," said Ferguson a week ago as she looked over the hundreds of toys, books, games, dolls, pillows, hats, gloves and more donated to the Community Christmas Toy Store, which opened to low-income parents in the Brandon School District last weekend. Parents were able to select a few items from each category for their children.

"This community, as small as it is, is very giving, caring and generous," said Ferguson.

The toy drive was truly a community effort, with schools, businesses, and individuals all contributing to make sure every child here will have toys under the tree and something in their stockings.

"We're sitting very well this year," said Ferguson. "I've been doing this 10 years and this is the best year I remember."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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