News and Tribune


December 6, 2013

Wish Book: It takes them all

Denkhoff family works together for their needs

CHARLESTOWN — Her shifts vary, so getting home late or early depends on the schedule she’s given. Sometimes pulling more than 40 hours a week and taking up a side job with her son every now and then, she still struggles to keep up with monthly bills.

But Bessie Denkhoff and her four children are pretty good at keeping their spirits up in spite of the circumstances. With everyone pitching in, they don’t just make it by, they life good for each other.

“You can’t get too stressed out about it,” Bessie said. “They don’t give me too much grief about what they can’t have. But they all know how hard it is.”

Working together

Three years ago, the family moved from Muldraugh, Ky. so Bessie could find work. She said with the job market so bad there, they had to go somewhere so she could support her family.

A single mother, Bessie works full time at Orscheln Farm and Home store in Charlestown as an assistant manager. But sometimes, she also works with her 20-year-old son, Sebastion, with his side job of installing windows on days she’s not at the store.

Sebastion also has a full-time job at McDonald’s. Even though he could keep the money for himself, he puts most of it back to make sure he, his mother and sisters can stay out of debt.

But he’s also contributing to a cause for his sister, Starr. She’s the only student in the state of Indiana who was chosen to attend the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists’ annual congress in February.

But the 15-year-old is also trying to help herself, with the backing of her family. Her sisters, Savanna, 13, and Amber Ray, 11, bake Danishes, bread and other pastries for Bessie to sell at work. They’ve raised some of what she needs to secure her place at the conference, but still have more to go.

Starr said when she’s not at school, she doesn’t normally go out with her friends. Instead, she stays home and helps take care of the house and her siblings.

“I’m not a typical teenager,” Starr said. “I sit at home, but I make sure that they’re all doing OK.”

Amber has found a way to be a little enterprising, too, even though she’s the youngest sister. She makes bracelets and sells them at school. Even if she doesn’t always like being around her sisters, she still helps them out.

“Most of the time I ignore my sisters,” Amber said. “But I sell bracelets sometimes and I give money to them, and I give money to my mommy.”

She said she helps out with gas money and other needs when she has to because she loves her family.

While Savanna is too young for a job, she still helps with the baking, but also takes on a big task of keeping the house in order. She said if there’s nothing else to do, she has no problem applying some elbow grease.

“If everyone’s gone and it’s just me, I’ll turn on the radio and clean because I get bored,” Savanna said.

With so much going on at home, school and work, Bessie said she and her children mange to keep their spirits up with each other. She said their family dynamic is one that keeps them laughing, but allows them to support each other.

“It can be fun and interesting,” Bessie said. “It’s hectic. Usually, I get home at night and have to deal with the baths and homework, but the girls will make dinner if I’m home late. They all know how to cook.”

Christmas wishes

Bessie said she’s proud of her children for what they do for her and each other. Because of that, there are some sacrifices she’s willing to make to help give them some of the gifts they want.

Part of that probably means putting off some bills and taking on some debt.

“They deserve it,” Bessie said. “They’re all really good kids and they help me a lot, and each other. Christmas has always kind of been a big thing in my family, so I love watching them do that.”

But she said she also knows that can only take her gift-giving so far. There are a lot of items on their wish lists they need more than want, and she has a limited ability to fulfill those.

Starr has had the same twin bed since she was 4 years old. The frame is broken and she’s outgrown it. She said she’d like to have something she can sleep in more comfortable, either a full-size or queen-size mattress.

Bessie said all of her children really need new beds and probably dressers, as well. All of them said they’d like more clothes, but Sebastion said he lost of lot of his clothing when he moved back home. He said that’s pretty much all he wants for Christmas.

Starr said she’d like some makeup and shoes to go with some clothing, but a bed is at the top of her list of priorities.

Amber wants a bicycle, Orbeez Spa, clothes and shoes. But to continue helping with providing some income to the family, she wants a Fun Loom Bracelet Making Kit.

Savanna said she really wants clothes, but wouldn’t turn down an Xbox 360 or an iPod of her own to listen to as she cleans the house.

Bessie said her car needs some repairs and a new set of tires. She said it seems like there’s a new sound every time she gets in to drive, but if need be, she can walk to work since it’s close by.

Sizing information:

Bessie Denkhoff

Pants: 12

Shirt: Large

Shoes and socks: Size 8, women’s

Starr Denkhoff

Pants: 7 women’s, junior’s

Shirt: Small, medium

Shoes and socks: 7, women’s

Savanna Ray

Pants: 12 kids’, 3/5 juinior’s

Shirt: Small

Shoes and socks: 6 1/2, women’s

Amber Ray

Pants: 10 or 12, girls’

Shirt: Small, medium

Shoes and socks: 4, 5 women’s

Sebastion Denkhoff

Pants: 32 waist, 34 length

Shirt: Large

Shoes: 12 or 13, men’s


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Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services is pictured on Friday afternoon in New Albany. Floyd County is considering the idea of selling the hospital to help relieve some financial pressure.


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