Formerly homeless mother teaches her kids invaluable lesson—buying gifts for strangers on Christmas

December 15, 2017 10:15 am Last Updated: December 15, 2017 10:15 am

Jnelle Dean is a mother from Charlottesville that has always had to work for what she’s had. She and her two children Jmiel, 15, and Naima, 12, have progressed to where they are now living in a Salvation Army-sponsored townhouse. But things used to be a lot worse for them.

Just last year the family was living in a homeless shelter during Christmas time.

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The Deans continue to struggle, but they’ve always found a way to make an impact on those around them. Five years ago, Jnelle started a tradition that would teach her children the true meaning of Christmas.

Every other Christmas, Jnelle and the family would buy gifts for those who needed it, regardless of their own financial situation.

“I explained that everyone isn’t as blessed as we were,” Jnelle said to her children about the tradition.

Jnelle has always remembered where she came from, and even if she is in a better place now than a year ago, she still wants to give back through the programs that have helped her.

Even if her kids only got a few things for Christmas, others didn’t get anything at all. As bad as things seemed, it could always be worse.

“Without the Salvation Army and programs like that, I wouldn’t have what I have,” she told Charlotte Observer.

This pushes her to always go out of her way to help those less fortunate than her, even when she is struggling herself.

Last Christmas, Jnelle, Jmiel, and Naima shopped at the dollar store to find gifts for younger kids.

Along with using Christmas as a way to teach her kids, the family has done a lot of volunteer work, like serving food to the homeless, and handing out donuts to police officers.

“Just because it seems that things are hard right now, it’s always harder for someone else,” Jnelle told MSN.

No matter what position she has found herself in, Jnelle has always found some sort of positive in it, and continues to look towards the future.

The mother of two is currently working on getting her Bachelor’s degree in social work, and holding a job at the same time. It’s no surprise that her children are quick to follow her morals—even if they have challenges, they are happy with what they have, and they keep working towards a better tomorrow.