The program gives gifts to families battling the opioid crisis

OHIO – A mother who lost two of her children to drugs is now helping families who lived through the tragedy of the opioid crisis.

What you need to know

  • Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia are considered by many to be the states hardest hit by the opioid and heroin epidemic
  • Approximately 10.1 million people aged 12 and over used opioids in 2019
  • An estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths were associated with a prescription opioid
  • Over 130 people die from opioid drug overdoses every day

For the past five years, Keli Clark has been helping families deal with the tragedies surrounding the opioid crisis.

“Project Noelle is named after my daughter Noelle, who died of an overdose in 2017,” said Keli Clark, the organization’s founder.

Clark said she is now raising Noelle’s twins.

Despite struggling with grief, Clark wanted to help others, so she started Project Noelle, a local charity that focuses on children affected by the drug epidemic.

“This Santa’s workshop is where we store all of our toy cars and stuff,” said Clark.

Recently, Project Noelle and the Sandusky Police Department teamed up and put on a toy drive to put a smile on their faces when kids in this opioid crisis could use them.

“People who go through an addiction, let’s just say their families, are the silent victims here,” said Detective Eric Costante.

Costante got involved with Project Noelle after investigating the death of Clark’s son Michael, who sadly also died of an overdose this year.

Costante is helping the charity as best he can because he knows their pain.

“The phone ringing is something (that happens) every time a police car drives by. Knowing that and I know this tragedy personally, how it feels and when you see these people trying to help these families, you offer them support “It’s just something that is easy to get over with,” said Costante.

Clark appreciates what the Sandusky Police Department has done for her family.

“My son also died of an overdose on September 1st this year and he was amazing, so I can’t say enough about the police here in Sandusky,” said Clark.

Since Noelle’s death, her charity has grown to serve others in two states.

“It’s like Christmas No. 5, and we’re in 22 Ohio counties and six Florida counties,” said Clark.

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