Taylor Price – A Story of Perseverance

Resilience and perseverance – two words that come to mind when we hear personal stories from those who, despite the hardships they face, don’t let their backgrounds define them or prevent them from striving for success. Marine Toys for Tots’ mission is to provide joy to disadvantaged children and let them know that there’s hope for a brighter future.

The Program also recently created their new Foster Care Initiative in hope of supporting even more children in need year-round. Even before the new initiative was launched, a profound impact had been made on a young woman whose childhood had been defined by hardships and challenges.  She has not let her past define or limit her potential for a future filled with promise. Her story embodies resilience and perseverance and will even remind others, who have faced similar challenges and adversity, that their backgrounds do not define their worth or potential.

Taylor Price is the Denison County, Texas, Toys for Tots Coordinator. She has been the Coordinator for a year, but her connection with Toys for Tots refers back to her childhood.

“I ended up finding out about Toys for Tots because I went from a position in life where I was very fortunate to a very less fortunate position as a child and started receiving toys from Toys for Tots for Christmas,” said Taylor.

Taylor and her younger brother lived in the care of several different family members through their childhood and into their teenage years. “Both of my parents ended up being federally incarcerated, my dad [was imprisoned] before my mom. [When my dad was incarcerated, my little brother] would write like little notes on the Christmas tree, and he would say, “All I want is my dad to come home for Christmas.”

Then, Taylor and her brother spent one final Christmas with their mom before she too was sent to prison.   “My mom, when she was federally incarcerated, the judge gave her a year to get her affairs in order. So, we knew the last Christmas we had with her was going to be the last Christmas we had with her for the next five years.”

Taylor and her brother faced homelessness at a very young age. “So, the first time I was ever homeless was in the sixth grade, and all I could think about was where am I going to go? And what am I going to do with my little brother? And how am I going to get to school?”

After Taylor’s mother became incarcerated, Taylor and her brother went to live with their aunt.

“My aunt was not fortunate at all. She came from a completely different walk of life. Our house was very run down.”

Taylor and her brother had just been removed from a life that they knew with their parents – unaware of all the challenges ahead of them. When she and her brother moved in with their aunt, her little brother ran away for a period of time, and Taylor’s aunt wouldn’t allow them to stay with her any longer.

“My aunt said we couldn’t live there anymore. So, my grandfather came, and he packed all of our stuff up and we left everything we had ever known.”

Taylor’s grandfather was in recovery from alcoholism at the time that she and her brother went to live with him. However, her grandfather relapsed – they were dealing with another hardship that they never knew they would have to face. 

“I remember [Child Protective Services] was called a few times [because of my grandfather’s relapse].

Taylor worked to find a way out of that situation.

“[When I was in the seventh grade] I figured out how to make a collect call in computer class. I had saved up pennies I found in a parking lot for a month. When [my grandfather] left to go to work, I made a collect call to my aunt that I had previously lived with, and when she answered, I told her ‘I don’t need a place to stay, but I have $52 in gas money, can you please just come pick us up?’”

Taylor went on to say, “my brother went to live with some distant family members, and I was able to stay with my aunt. I lived my aunt for just a short period of time, and then she kicked me out of the house as well.”

Taylor was faced with yet another difficult situation in a short period of time. She turned to her grandmother, who had been living across the street from her aunt at the time.

“My grandmother lived across the street from my aunt, she was still married to the same man that didn’t want her to have children. She worked nights for the Police Department from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. If he was home when I would get out of school or out of softball practice, I would walk home all the way across town and I would sleep on the bench on the porch because I wasn’t allowed to go inside.”

Taylor continued, “My grandmother would send one of the Police Officers to pick me up, and I would go to the police station and sleep underneath her desk. And I lived that way until my mom was released from prison and came home.”

There were still hurdles that Taylor and her family had to face after her mom served her time. “[When my mom came home], she came to live at my grandma’s house – we were all living in a little one-bedroom house. It was very rough on her – she didn’t know how to be a mom anymore.” She continued, “It took all three of us working. We spent years, countless years, without food – we just did everything we could to make it and we just kept on and kept on and finally broke even.”

As a result of the lack of nutrition and stress placed on Taylor’s immune system, she developed an autoimmune disorder.

“[I developed] Lupus. Lupus has damaged my kidneys, and I have been in renal failure since 2018.”

Even through her fight with Lupus, she was able to become a foster parent for a period of time, but ultimately, had to put more focus on her health.

“[Being in renal failure] is another reason why I stopped fostering because it was just draining me, taking too much out of me.”

When asked about why she chose to become a foster parent, Taylor said, “I ended up taking in so many kids because I was the kid that nobody wanted. I was shoveled around from house to house, and I was always made to feel like I was a burden wherever I was – I never felt loved. I never felt like someone was taking care of me because it was the right thing to do. All of that has taken years to recover from and tons of therapy.”

Taylor also talked about her reason for becoming involved with the Marine Toys for Tots Program.

“[I may not know why some children are in the particular situation that they are in – some of these kids are still fortunate enough to be with their parents. Some of them aren’t, some of them are being raised by other family members or are in Foster Care.]  Working with Toys for Tots, it makes me so happy just to know when I’m giving a child Christmas, [I know that one glimmer of hope can make a really big difference].”

As Taylor began her time as a Coordinator, she mentioned how she felt leaving the annual Marine Toys for Tots Training Conference. “I left training and all I could think was how many times did I think to myself ‘I’m never going to make it – I’m never going to make it anywhere. My story is never going to matter to anybody else. And then one day it just clicked with me – I will not let [anyone] count me out because this is where I came from.’”

Taylor continued to speak about the advice she would give her younger self – which may be an inspiration to others who are in similar situations. “If I could talk to myself back then, I would tell myself [to never] let them count you out just because you’re THAT kid. Just because you’re the kid that gets made fun of in school for the way you smell or for the clothes that you have. Don’t ever let them tell you that they’re better than you.”

She continued, “Because some people in the world come from backgrounds like that, they come from very humble beginnings, and they know how much sweeter the top is when you get there because you’ve worked so much harder for it than everyone else.”

This is the hope that Toys for Tots strives to instill in young girls and boys who face adversity and challenges every day. The power of a simple toy can be that beacon of hope that they need – and stories like Taylor’s can inspire children and even older youths to never give up.

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