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Sandusky woman who lost daughter to addiction collects Christmas gifts for kids in foster care

Posted at 4:46 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 18:16:51-05

A Sandusky woman is on a mission to help families affected by the opioid epidemic. 

Her daughter died this summer from a heroin overdose, leaving behind three sons. 

Keli Clark is now raising two of her daughter's younger sons because their father is addicted to heroin.

She's not only there for her grandchildren, she's also helping other kids affected by the crisis, while remembering her daughter.

Clark said the hardest part was trying to explain what happened to her daughter, to her grandchildren. 

"They know mom is dead. They know mommy went to heaven," she said. "They don't understand it's a permanent thing. They'll ask me, 'when is mommy coming back from heaven? Can we go to heaven and see mommy?'"

In Ohio, about 14,000 children are in the foster care system. That's a surprising increase from the last five years and about half of those children's parents are addicted to drugs. 

Clark says she was compelled to make sure those children have a Merry Christmas.

And, in honor of her daughter, she started Project Noelle, taking in toy donations for those kids. 

"I don't think I'll ever heal, so to try to talk to someone else how to get through this, I don't have a clue," said Clark. "But, in the meantime, while I'm trying to figure it out, I can try to help some of these kids."

They will collect donations from the community on Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Sanctuary located at 211 East Monroe Street in Sandusky. 

The majority of the gifts will be turned over to Erie County children services. 

Project Noelle teamed up with the women's shelter and created a GoFundMe page for people wishing to help. 

Those interested in donating or volunteering can call Clark at 419-271-2107.

Those in the Cleveland area can also drop off donations at Merry Arts in Lakewood.