Samantha lost her mom and dad to cancer and she was taking care of her siblings alone, till the Orange County Sheriff's Department's aviation unit learned about them!
It's never easy to cope with the loss of a parent. It's harder when you lose both parents and you need to take care of yourself, and siblings, if any. 20-year-old Samantha Rodriguez lost both her parents to cancer within the past five years. She has five siblings, ages five to 17, who were in grave danger of being taken into the states foster-care system. For almost three years, Samantha has been taking care of her siblings and giving them clothes, food, and shelter. She's also been taking them to school regularly. "I knew what I had to do," Rodriquez told CNN about her decision to raise her brothers and sisters. "I learned so much from my mom. I was like her sidekick. I learned what it meant to raise a family."
SOME FEEL GOOD NEWS! A GoFundMe created to help 20-year-old Samantha Rodriguez who is raising her 5 siblings after losing both parents to cancer has raised more than $27,000. https://t.co/ewyZc7AcWE #kwch12 pic.twitter.com/4VJGxtT7ca— KWCH Eyewitness News (@KWCH12) April 17, 2019
Samantha moved to Orange County, Florida, with her siblings because her grandmother was there. Resources there were scarce and the 20-year-old had to grow beyond her age to help sustain her family. "It can be tough knowing when to be like a parent and when to be their sister," she said. "Sometimes it can feel like I'm alone." The Orange County Sheriff's Department's aviation unit learned about the Rodriguez family last December and decided to pay them a visit.
Me too and I don't think we're alone.— Deborah Bourque (@Anotherdebbie) April 11, 2019
"We took pictures with the officers and the helicopter. Then they said, 'Let's go into this room for milk and cookies.', said Samantha" The room was filled with Christmas presents for the family. "We focused on clothes but also toys," said Lieutenant Antorrio Wright. "We wanted to give them a good Christmas." The department posted a video of the kids online and many people asked them how they could help the family.
The Rodriguez kids lost both parents to cancer in recent years. Samantha, 20, has taken on the role of caregiver to her five younger siblings. The kids thought they were visiting the OCSO Aviation Unit for a tour. Instead, they received a Christmas none of us will ever forget! pic.twitter.com/1Bs4w6PQob— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) December 24, 2018
When Samantha and her siblings arrived, they noticed she did so in an Uber, which meant she did not have a car, and that could not have been easy for Samantha who goes around a lot to get her siblings to school. So, when Samantha was asked to come to the office again after four months, she had no idea of the surprise that was awaiting her. "I thought it was just a meeting," she said. "He asked me to come into this room with all the people we had met at Christmas." Then, she was asked to come up on stage, where one deputy ceremoniously unveiled a picture of a new Nissan Versa.
ICYMI: Here's the story on the anonymous donors who stepped up to buy a new car for Samantha Rodriguez, who at 20 is raising her five younger siblings after her parents' death. Nice story here, too:https://t.co/iNCmq7vSh7 pic.twitter.com/m6B0rCEJcy— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) April 8, 2019
"It's yours," he said. "When they told me the car is for us, I remember thinking, 'They just took away all these worries and stresses.'" she said. "It was such a big weight off my shoulder and will help so much." Lieutenant Wright informed her that a group of anonymous donors wanted to help her! "I was so in shock!" Rodriguez said. "This is so crazy! It really didn't sink in until a couple of days after. Everything I plan now for the kids is so much easier. I don't have to call for a ride. I'm very grateful for it. All these people reminded me I'm not alone," she said. The officers even helped her get insurance for the car.
Awesome story! Where can I donate to help this beautiful family?— Frank chen (@FrankChenfrankc) April 11, 2019
Wright also added this will not be a one-time thing, and they will help her as much as they can. "Anything I can do or we can do with the Sheriff's blessing we will. I'm proud of my unit," he said. "It's heartwarming. It wasn't just me -- it was the unit, and all these people came together to help." He also encouraged others to help the Rodriguez family. Samantha, on the other hand, is blown away by their generosity. "It gave me so much inspiration to do better for other people," she said. "Other amazing people came into our lives like this and they didn't have to. We are so grateful."
WOW! Thank you for opening your hearts to this little family. And, thank you to Samantha from a mother who knows how difficult it can be to raise children & I know as a mother how proud and grateful her mom would be! Amazing both!— Martha G (@g_anngertz26) April 11, 2019
Soon after news of Samantha and her family getting a car was out, thousands of people have come forward to help with donations. A GoFundMe campaign was started that said: Receiving the car has changed their lives. But there is still a long road ahead for this family. Samantha works as a server at a restaurant and would love to be able to someday put a down payment on a house for her and her siblings, take some college classes, and even save for the kids' education. In just a week, the page has raised over $29,000 and there seem to be no signs of it slowing down as donations keep pouring in by the minute.
How sad for these kids to lose both parents. What the @OrangeCoSheriff did for them was so cool, though. So great of Samantha to take on this responsibility and keep the kids together!— Diane Miller (@DKM62) April 8, 2019
Your kindness, generosity and well wishes continue to be such a blessing to the Rodriguez kids. “I’m at a loss for words, but the kids and I will be forever grateful to all of you. This help has changed my life and took so much off my plate," said Samantha. “It amazes me to see how much people have come together to help me and my family and to see how many good-hearted people are out there!” she added.
My heart! I forget that there's so much love in this world. Good job OCSO and I'm so happy for that beautiful family ♥️— Dandy Blagg-Staggs (@dandyblagg) April 11, 2019