A Maryland family enjoyed a happy holiday thanks to the generosity of strangers — and Eddie Vedder
The holidays can be a tough time for many people, but they’re especially hard on families who are struggling to pay their bills, let alone buy a few gifts for their kids. That’s just the predicament a Maryland mom found herself in this holiday season – until the Internet and rock legend Eddie Vedder stepped in to help.
Since Tyshika Britten returned to school full-time to become a licensed cosmetologist, money has been tight for the family, she told NBC News. Facing eviction, the mom of six – five boys between the ages of 3 and 15, and a one-year-old baby girl – didn’t know how she was going to keep her family in their home, much less give them few modest gifts. So in a desperate last ditch effort to save Christmas for her family, Britten turned to Craiglist.
“I am a mother of six, 5 boys and 1 baby girl,” she began in her post before going on to explain how her family would soon be evicted from their home and, without a tree or any gifts for her family, she worried this might be the first time she couldn’t give her children a Christmas.
“I’m so hurt,” the 35-year-old hairstylist wrote. “I’m trying my best. I pray everyday 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.”
At first Britten only received a response or two, but then The Washington Post reported the story on December 19th and she was flooded with offers to help. At the prompting of several email inquiries, Britten set up a Go Fund Me page and donations from strangers started pouring, including a $10,000 donation from a very well-known stranger — Eddie Vedder.
“I thought it was fake,” Britten said, admitting that she didn’t know who Vedder was at first. “Is he in a band?” she said.
After a quick Google search, Britten and her family learned the generous donor wasn’t just any band member or singer, but front man of the legendary rock band Pearl Jam, which was recently named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017. The Washington Post reported that the family has been watching the band’s concerts online ever since.
Vedder said Britten’s story resonated with him and memories of his own childhood. “There were years there were toys from Santa, but they were used and they came from garage sales and they didn’t always work,” he said, adding that he hopes his donation will serve as “a tourniquet” to help the family get some control over their situation and provide some normalcy for the family.
In addition to Vedder’s generous donation, the family received several gifts, including a Fire tablet and PlayStation 4. One person even dropped off a puppy. Although some have criticized Britten for publicly sharing her family’s struggles, she insists that she’s simply exposing how many people live. “There are people all over this country who have the same problems we have. This is real life.”
Real life indeed. In fact, millions of families comprise the working poor and face similar problems to those faced by Britten’s family. Many people are one paycheck away from disaster and there’s no room for mistakes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, about 46.7 million people (or 14.8 percent of the U.S. population) lived below the official poverty level and about 9.5 million people were among the “working poor” who had spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force but still fell below the poverty line.
“I was just so moved by the story and what this mother did for her children,” Vedder said in an interview on Sunday. “I thought those kids must be so proud of their mother for reaching out. That takes a lot of courage.”