United Way’s Adopt-A-Family Effort Helped Brighten a Family’s Holiday

Lakita knew it would be a meager Christmas for her Bond Hill family after taking time off work to help an ailing family member. But United Way's Adopt-A-Family provided joy when they desperately needed it.
January 5, 2023
Lakita and Elyse Kelley, Adopt-A-Family participants (2022)
Lakita and Elyse
(John Johnston / United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2024)

CINCINNATI (January 5, 2023) — Usually by Thanksgiving, Lakita Kelley is ready for Christmas. But 2022 was different.  

As the holidays approached, the condition of her 15-year-old nephew worsened. He had fought lifelong health battles, including kidney and heart failure and cancer. He died Dec. 17, and Lakita, a 41-year-old event planner, took on the task of planning his funeral. 

Because she had taken time off from work to be in the hospital, Lakita knew it would be a meager Christmas for her Bond Hill family – her 20-year-old daughter, 19-year-old son, 10-year-old sister and 8-year-old nephew. 

But at a dark point in their lives, a glimmer of light appeared. Destiny Family Services, where Lakita became certified to provide foster care, forwarded her name to Consolation Baptist Church, a United Way faith-based partner. The church then invited her to be part of United Way’s second annual Adopt-A-Family program. 

“When they say God is always on time, that was an on-time moment for me,” Lakita said.  

Hers was among 104 families supported by Adopt-A-Family, which focused on kinship care families – those in which children are cared for by relatives or adults with close ties to a parent who is unable to care for a child. 

Since late 2019, Lakita has been the legal guardian of her 10-year-old sister, Elyse. Lakita also cares for her 8-year-old nephew. 

Lakita said the importance of family was instilled in her by her father, who died of kidney failure in 2019. “We were taught that it’s family over everything,” she said.  

Elyse’s Adopt-A-Family gifts included clothes, a plush toy, a stuffed animal and a jewelry kit. Other family members received items such as house slippers, sweatshirts, a basketball, a soccer ball, robes, a wallet and toys.  

The gifts brought joy to a family that desperately needed it. 

Lakita, who received a gift card and mug, said she wanted to thank the family that “adopted” them. “I didn’t expect to be chosen, let alone for them to bless us the way they did,” she said. “I’m grateful, appreciative and blessed.” 

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