Amy Waldroop, the 23-year-old Anaheim woman who gave up her college plans to become a foster mother to her three younger brothers, has experienced a series of firsts since her story was published in September:
Her first plane ride, to New York to appear on "Montel Williams"; her first visit from Santa Claus, with lots of donated presents, including bikes for her brothers--Adam, 13, Joey, 12, and Tony, 9--and her 3-year-old son, Donavin; and her first shopping spree, with $1,000 donated by stores in Fashion Island Newport Beach as part of the Spirit of Giving award from Childhelp USA.
Offers of all kinds of support were sent to Waldroop to help her keep her brothers from growing up the way she did. Because of her mother's drug addiction, Waldroop spent her childhood in motels, cars, juvenile detention centers and foster homes.
Waldroop has used the donations primarily for food, cleaning supplies, clothing and bedding. After her vacuum cleaner blew up, employees at American Express Financial Advisors in Irvine bought her a new one. "It was the prettiest vacuum I ever saw," Waldroop said.
Waldroop's story came to light last fall after she received the PacifiCare Touch a Life Award from the Southern Area Fostercare Effort, which recruits foster parents in eight Southern California counties.
Barbara Labitzke, executive director of SAFE, said in addition to the many offers of help for Waldroop that the agency fielded, "a few people have inquired about becoming foster parents themselves, but not nearly enough to meet the need."
Waldroop left her full-time job as a receptionist to spend more time with the boys and now works 30 hours a week at a preschool. She hopes to go to college someday. She gave up a scholarship to UCLA to raise her brothers.
"I have every intention of doing what I planned to do when I was 15," she said. "But I know I'll have these kids awhile. This is home. I'm Mom."