Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, 11:24 a.m.
Kate Crawford was thankful to have the holidays to spend with her family.
But a literal bad break threatened to crush their holiday spirit. And although the season had ended for a locally-based mission, The Crew Missions Inc. stepped in to preserve the holidays for the Rostraver family.
On Saturday, volunteers will decorate the Crawford home for Christmas.
After learning her husband, Stephen, would be laid up for weeks with a broken fibula in his leg and a torn ACL and meniscus in his knee – plus surgery – Kate Crawford contacted Crew Missions founder Judi Robbins.
“As soon as he got hurt, I said, ‘I need help with the Christmas lights.' I know it's not the season (for The Crew Missions), but I need help. I can't do it myself,'” Crawford said.
Crew Missions is a faith-based volunteer program that helps people with small projects in and around their homes in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.
Robbins said public support has grown because most people in the Valley are aware of Kate Crawford's story.
The Rostraver woman created a Mommy Bucket List after being diagnosed last year with stage IV breast cancer. It has since spread to her spine and pelvis.
Crawford and her husband have 6-year-old twin daughters, Grace and Lily, and a son, Stephen, 4.
Robbins said The Crew Missions season ended in October, but she was touched by Crawford's request.
“I knew in my heart I could not leave her hanging with no help,” Robbins said. “I felt the need to organize it. We're aware of the family needs.”
Robbins sought help from friends in the Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce, family members and Valley residents. About a dozen have volunteered, although others are welcome. To help, call Robbins at 412-708-7328.
“It's turning into a community effort of people coming together to bless the Crawford family,” Robbins said.
The volunteers will meet Saturday at the couple's Rostraver house to decorate and hang Christmas lights.
Some volunteers will do crafts with the Crawford children.
“At Christmastime, everybody wants the spirit of Christmas to remain,” Robbins said. “If we can give a little bit of time … that's what Christmas is about.”
The group formed in 2012 as The Crew. It was based at the Crossroads Community Church of Jefferson Hills.
“One day, one person told us we were a great crew mission within the community, and it just clicked for me,” Robbins said of the name change.
Robbins serves as president and secretary of the nonprofit charity, which is overseen by a seven-member board.
“We have remained faith-based,” Robbins said. “We pray with the homeowners, and we will pray with volunteers and witness with them.”
The Crew Missions' volunteers perform such tasks as pulling weeds, trimming hedges, painting homes, mulching and laying stone.
The group works Saturdays from April through October.
“The majority of the homeowners are elderly with medical conditions, but we have helped younger homeowners who are financially struggling and working so much they do not have time, or are taking care of family members who are ill,” Robbins said.
This year, The Crew Missions helped 18 homeowners.
It is always seeking contributions, whether monetary or tools. Gift cards are welcome because they can be used to replace tools.
“All funds are used to keep the organization going and help homeowners,” Robbins said.
Kate Crawford said the family feels blessed by the outpouring of support.
“We're so thankful, especially with it being Thanksgiving week,” Crawford said. “We really needed the help. It's hard having Steve out because he's the one that does things when I can't.”
Crawford said she was worried how the holidays would work out for her family, especially her children.
“This makes their Christmas,” said Crawford. “When we normally decorate the Christmas tree and put up the lights, they are so excited. It is such a magical time with them.
“I am so thankful to be around for another holiday and have the opportunity to spend it with them.”