It’s Christmas Eve and most people are settling down for a night and upcoming morning of joy and presents on Christmas Day, snuggled in front of a fire or in a warm house.
Vicky Schlueter is not experiencing that type of holiday this year at her home at Rock Street in Alton. In an interview with Riverbender.com late last week, her thermostat registered 51 degrees. Because of severe electrical issues, her furnace isn’t working for her and her granddaughter Raina, 13, and their only heat is through space heaters. Schlueter has five other grandchildren – a 3-year-old, two 4-year-olds and another 10-year-old. She will be unable to provide any presents this Christmas for any of her six grandchildren, which breaks her heart.
Schlueter has not been able to work much over the last year because of an illness. Normally, she works as a sign language interpreter.
“I would love to get my heat going and provide presents for my grandchildren,” she said. “I just don’t have the funds this year.”
Godfrey’s Charlene Edwards, a Good Samaritan in the River Bend, brought the idea to Riverbender.com to publish an article in attempt to help Schlueter. She said she tries each year in the Christmas season to pick a family that she can help raise awareness to assist.
Initially, Schlueter was hesitant to seek help and said she has never wanted to do that, but Edwards persuaded her to allow an interview with Riverbender.com to try to encourage the public to assist her.
“Vicki’s needs are immediate,” Edwards said. “She needs help with her heating, electrical work to keep her home safe, food and I wish Christmas gifts for her grandchildren. She had a furnace fire and it did a lot of damage and she is limited in using space heaters because of the lack of electricity.”
Schlueter’s electrical wiring is bad and needs to be updated to support a proper furnace. Her mother put a heating unit on her credit card for the home, but Schlueter is struggling to pay for it. She said she is unable to afford fixing the electrical wiring or getting the heating unit installed.
Raina describes Vicki as “the best grandmother in the world.”
“She tries her best,” Raina said.
Raina’s mother will be returning home in February and Vicki wants to have a proper home setting for her and the children.
Because of the lack of heat, Schlueter has to keep her water running constantly to prevent the pipes from freezing. Her water bill has greatly increased because of the continuous water flow in her home.
Schlueter has a most worthy goal for her life: “I want to continue to improve so I have a safe environment,” she said. “Maybe next year I will be able to get my grandkids presents.”
For those who would like to donate gifts for Schlueter’s grandchildren, Edwards can be reached at 618-444-7303. Anything that could be donated could go to Edwards' home at 410 St. Rose Drive in Godfrey. Edwards said anyone wishing to provide cash or check donations can send them to her address in Godfrey or drop them off at her house.
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