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By Miriam Raftery

Photos, left: Three of the five special needs children in Zeldin's care.

July 11, 2015 (Rancho San Diego) – Friends describe Debra Zeldin as an “angel.”  Twice named the County’s foster parent of the year, she has taken in over 60 foster children, specializing in those with special medical needs.  She currently has five children in her care, including a blind, 6-year-old boy for whom she helped obtain a kidney transplant and a 10-year-old girl with muscular dystrophy who  just came home from the hospital when Zeldin discovered her van had been stolen. Two of the children use wheelchairs and one is on a tracheotomy curently.

Now Zeldin needs help –and a friend has launched a fundraising drive to raise money for repairs, since the thieves who stole her van had no insurance or assets and Zeldin’s insurance company has informed her that her policy lacked comprehensive coverage.

“Progressive has washed their hands of it, denied my claim and said `You’re on your own,’” Zeldin told East County Magazine.

Teenage thieves crashed her van into another vehicle, leaving the van too damaged to drive. To Zeldin’s shock, uninsured motorist and collision coverage won’t provide a penny toward the $3,500 in estimated repairs needed, nor the costs of towing or temporary transportation.

“It was awful,” Zeldin said of the moment her foster daughter told her that the van was missing.  

This will be a huge financial hit.”

They found it a mile away, parked by a park, where the thieves dumped it after the crash and went on to steal another vehicle.  Law enforcement attempted to stop the young thieves for driving under the influence and a pursuit ensued.  Three juveniles were taken into custody and a fourth suspect escaped.

“Debbie is one of those rare Earth angels who dedicates her love and life to special health needs kids—and they are serious needs too,” says Donna Pykles, who has known the family for many years.”

Another friend, Allen Normand, announced on the Mt. Helix Next Door forum that he has launched a fund raising drive to help Zeldin and the children.  “She has been a single foster parent forever now and truly dedicates her life to all of her adopted children, her own children and the children that she is the legal guardian for,” he wrote.

In addition to the 10- and 6-year old children, Zeldin has an adopted 14-year-old daughter who needs help to drive to soccer games, a 3-year-old that she is in the process of adopting, and a nearly 1-year-old tot that she has been fostering and is now working on reuniting with the child’s mom.  Zeldin was featured in the documentary “Voices of Children” for her Herculean efforts to help foster children in need.

You can donate to help Debra Zeldin through the “Van Fund” set up at Wells Fargo Bank at Grossmont Center in La Mesa. The account number is 1971183627. The bank can also accept PayPal  donations. Alternatively, you can make a check payable to Debra Zeldin and mail to: 8960 Johnson Drive, La Mesa, CA 91941.

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Debra gives her heart and

Debra gives her heart and soul to these children. I am excited to see the community come together to help her.