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Ad to sell camper brings loads of generosity

WATFORD CITY, N.D. - As a single mom laid off from her oilfield job, Elizabeth Garcia feared the family Christmas tree would be bare this year. The 33-year-old Watford City woman posted on Facebook last weekend about a used camper she wanted to s...

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Elizabeth Garcia and her son, Cristian, and daughter, Nayeli, pictured Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Watford City, N.D., are grateful for the generosity of the community this Christmas. (Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service)

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – As a single mom laid off from her oilfield job, Elizabeth Garcia feared the family Christmas tree would be bare this year.

The 33-year-old Watford City woman posted on Facebook last weekend about a used camper she wanted to sell to buy Christmas gifts for her children.

Garcia didn’t get any good offers the camper. Instead, she was flooded with offers of generosity from community members who wanted to help as Bakken oil prices have fallen over the past year to their lowest rates since 2008.

“Finally I said I can’t accept any more help,” Garcia said. “I know there’s other families that are struggling and probably more than I am.”

Garcia, a mother of two, moved to North Dakota from Colorado in 2012 to look for new opportunities after going through a divorce. She sold burritos at construction sites and later worked as a waitress in Williston before landing her first oilfield job in 2014.

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Garcia spent about 14 months working as a field clerk for a company building a natural gas processing plant.

“I loved that I could always give my kids everything they needed and have all my bills paid,” Garcia said. “My problem was I didn’t save any money, which was stupid of me. I should have.”

She got laid off from that job in June after the project was finished and the company didn’t have any more work. Garcia went on to work as a welder’s helper and later as a carpenter’s helper until the end of September.

“I got laid off from both places because the job ended,” she said. “Now there’s just not really any work.”

Garcia now works part-time at a Watford City laundromat and sells dozens of homemade tamales to pay her bills. Right now she shares a mobile home with other family members and two friends.

“If somebody needs a place to stay, I bring them in because I know how it is,” Garcia said.

A camper someone abandoned in the Bakken is parked next to the home and Garcia had planned to fix it up someday. She decided to try to sell it to buy her gifts for her son, Cristian, 8, and daughter, Nayeli, 5.

“They haven’t asked for anything, really, but I know that they are still looking forward to it. They’re kids,” Garcia said.

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Within minutes of posting about the used camper on a Watford City Facebook page, local western clothing store Saddle Up replied and told Garcia to stop by and pick something out for the kids.

“Nobody should have to go through that stuff at Christmas time,” said store owner Dori Sparvy. “Everybody needs a little help on occasion, and that’s what you do.”

Garcia also received toy donations and grocery store gift cards from other businesses and individuals in Watford City and Williston.

“I didn’t expect so many people to just offer help like they did,” Garcia said. “We’ve been more than blessed.”

While Garcia has watched others leave North Dakota after getting laid off, she said her family has established the state as their home.

“I love Watford City and I’ve always loved it here,” Garcia said. “I don’t feel like anywhere I’ve ever lived has had so many kind people.”

Related Topics: CHRISTMAS
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