Now this is family. Francesca McCall and her younger sister Chantale had always promised to take care of each other’s kids if anything ever happened to either. Chantale died in September from Covid-19, and Francesca who was already raising seven kids of her own, took in Chantale’s five children.
As her sister lay dying of COVID-19 in an Alabama hospital, Francesca McCall knew what she had to do.
Despite already being a mom to seven children, McCall was ready and willing to take her sister’s five children in as her own, which would make her a single mom caring for a total of 12 kids.
“We are very close. We always used to have discussions like, ‘If anything happened to any of us, we knew that we wouldn’t want our children to be separated,’” McCall, 40, told AL.com. “When [UAB Hospital] called us up there, I told her that she wouldn’t have to worry. I would raise her kids and take care of them like my own.”
That’s exactly what happened when Chantale McCall, 34, died of COVID on Sept. 16 and her husband, Rance Martin, followed just one month later. Martin, 41, died on Oct. 25, his late wife’s birthday, CNN reported.
With their five children now orphaned, McCall took them under her wing, and moved them all from Selma to her home in Birmingham, about 100 miles away.
“We have all the boys in one room and we have all the girls in the other two rooms, so everybody’s kind of just on top of one another,” she told CNN. “So we’ve been making the best out of the situation.”
The children range in age from 2-year-old Chayna to 15-year-olds LaKeria and De’Alan, McCall told AL.com., and all of the kids are currently attending school remotely.
McCall, who is working from home at the moment, told CNN that her mother has been staying with her to help her care for the children as they continue to heal.
“They’re doing okay at times and at times they break down, so they’re having their days and their moments,” she said. “It’s been very hard losing their friends, church family and basically everything that’s held dear to them.”
A GoFundMe page arranged to help the family with their everyday needs has so far raised nearly $250,000, and McCall plans to use the money to buy a washer and dryer, as well as winter coats and clothing for the kids, she told AL.com.
As the holidays quickly approach, McCall said that her family has something special in store that will honor her late sister: a Christmas balloon release in memory of Chantale.
“Our plan for Christmas is celebrating my sister’s life and her legacy she leaves behind,” she told CNN.
God bless Francesca and her family.