FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. -- After Tammi Amack lost her job as a caregiver for seniors, she and her 8th grade daughter, Miranda, were evicted from their apartment and started sleeping in their van back in April.
“It could be cold outside and the car is running almost all night trying to keep us warm. It’s just difficult and there’s not that much room to sleep and stretch out,” Miranda said.
Each night, they had the same routine.
“I have to find a place to give her a shower,” Amack said. “Then we have to find a place to do her homework because we need a computer and then we have to figure out what to do for dinner and it’s all just so much work to live in this van.”
And every morning, Miranda would get up and go to school at Pinnacle Charter Middle School. She wore the same school uniform every day because it’s all she had.
“Miranda didn’t share her story with anyone,” Pinnacle Principal Kimberly Stalcup told FOX31.
Instead, the girl earned straight A’s in all her classes.
“She comes to school and puts a smile on her face and gets good grades,” Stalcup said.
“It’s a place where I feel safe and I feel like it’s a constant in my life,” Miranda said when asked why she like school.
Last week, a teacher asked Miranda if there was anything she wanted for the holidays. After repeatedly saying “no”, she finally said she would like a warm coat for her mother.
When asked what she would like for herself, she said she wanted school clothes that fit.
And when she was asked what kind of personal item she would like as a gift, she said she would want a bag of dog food for her dog.
“When I learned those things, it really breaks my heart,” Stalcup said.
The principal posted on Facebook asking her neighbors in Erie if they’d like to help fulfill Miranda’s Christmas list.
The simple request sparked a wave of donations for the small family. They have received clothes, shoes, dog food, dog toys, purses, nail polish and more than $12,000 in a GoFundMe account.
“There was no hope for us. I didn’t know what to do and all of the sudden we have all the hope in the world,” Amack said. “I just don’t know how people could be so kind to people they don’t know.”
The mother and daughter are now staying in a hotel room while they search for a month-to-month lease. In the meantime, they are also waiting for an affordable housing spot. According to Amack, they are ninth on the list.
“It’s such a relief and I can sleep without worrying and it’s amazing,” Amack said.
Their story has inspired the community to want to help more Pinnacle families experiencing homelessness.
“Churches have reached out, thrift stores, families themselves asking how they can help” Stalcup said.
She is now hoping that families will continue to get help from the community even after the holidays.
“It’s really the start of something even better,” Stalcup said.
“All these other families that are getting help I hope the best for all of them and I hope they are just as happy as us right now,” Amack said.
If you are interested in helping families experiencing homelessness at Pinnacle Charter School, you can contract the school directly at 303-450-3985.