By Ukee Washington


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Every year, the Salvation Army adopts dozens of families to give an extra-special Christmas. Four-year-old Tahjah is already excited for Christmas. His grandmother’s house sparkles with the traditional pieces of the holiday, the tree, the ornaments, the star.

But there are two people missing: Kimberly and Loraya. They died in January 2017 after being struck by a drunk driver.

“It changed my life dramatically. I lost my oldest to my youngest,” said their mother, Loretta Phillips.

Kimberly was 19, Loraya was 10. Their sister Mattie says losing both of them was a huge blow.

“Kimberly always made you smile, like literally. She will make you laugh,” said Mattie.

Now, Loretta is raising Tahjah and his brother, Hakim, as well as her own children. Christmas is not easy.

“They want the same thing everybody else got, and sometimes you don’t have it, but you want to make it come true for them,” said Loretta.

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For decades, the Salvation Army has been adopting families like Loretta’s.

“It’s just an amazing way to bless them,” said Jeffrey Howe, who oversees the holiday toy drive and distribution for the Salvation Army.

On this day, he’s preparing for gifts to be dropped off. Every number on the floor signifies a family that has gone through hardship.

“Then we get donors to adopt that family, buy gifts for everyone in the family, mom, maybe grandmom, all the kids,” said Jeffery. “We ask the donors in that program to spend a minimum of $100 per person in that family, so the family just gets an amazing Christmas.”

“I think they’re really good people. I think they’re really good helpers,” said Mattie.

Loretta said the generosity of viewers makes her spirits a little brighter.

“They are a blessing. They are God’s angels,” said Loretta.

Ukee Washington