They said the conditions were unbearable. Mold a lack of heat.
These were the accusations made by the women living in a Prince George's County Shelter for domestic violence survivors. Those now trying to help not only heard those cries but also learned the women weren't going to get a Christmas this year.
That was until a church, a Maryland Delegate, and an entire mall stepped-in, in just two days.
There was a huge collection of toys waiting for the children of these domestic survivors. More importantly, they all sat down as one big family to a warm Christmas Day meal.
“I'm looking around, and I realize, this is actually full circle for me and I'm blessed that God gave me the opportunity,” said Angela Angel, a Maryland Delegate for the state's 25th District.
Angel said she used to live in the same shelter. “Was in room 5,” she told the group during prayer, “My marriage had gone from really volatile to becoming violent.”
So when she saw reports of the conditions many of these mothers say they were living in, Angel said she had to help.
“Saturday afternoon I put out a call saying – first I said I need a location where we can host about 40 women and their children, and Pastor Lee responded. He said he was willing to host,” said Angel.
The Pastor is Reverend Tony Lee. He leads the Community of Hope AME Church located in the basement of Iverson Mall in Temple Hills, MD. The mall's owner agreed to open up doors for the families on Christmas Day. Police donated toys earlier. Church members had dropped off toys Christmas morning.
“When I heard about the situation, it was one of horror because you have people who have dealt with issues and now they're going to a place that's supposed to be a place that's supposed to help them,” said Rev. Lee.
They decided to uplift their neighbors.
Reverend Lee said after, they plan to stay involved and see the women
“Y'all are moving up. Y'all could be in my place next. In the state house. In the White House,” Angel told the group as they all held hands, “it's within you.”
Many of the mothers say they would not have been able to afford the gifts and meal otherwise.
Volunteers also sent presents and food to the women on Christmas Eve.
The county continues to investigate claims at the shelter.
For the time being, the women and their children are staying at a hotel thanks to a big helping hand from the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office.