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Down And Out: ‘Will Trade For Diapers And Milk’

The mother of two teenagers and two adult children said she was in Lake Elsinore from Hemet to avoid embarrassing her kids.

"Rhonda" on the corner of Central and Cambern avenues in Lake Elsinore. Sept. 18, 2013.  Photo/Toni McAllister
"Rhonda" on the corner of Central and Cambern avenues in Lake Elsinore. Sept. 18, 2013. Photo/Toni McAllister

A Hemet woman who says she is in a desperate financial situation resorted to trading toys for milk and diapers Wednesday morning in Lake Elsinore. 

Standing on the corner of Central and Cambern avenues, a woman who asked to only be identified as “Rhonda” surrounded herself with dolls and small stuffed animals. Holding a sign that read, "Trade toys for diapers, food & milk," woman said she is doing the best she can to make ends meet.

“I don’t have any money,” she said.

The mother of two teenagers and two adult children said she was in Lake Elsinore from Hemet to avoid embarrassing her kids.

“They hate that I do this,” she admitted, pointing to her late model gold Saturn sedan that appeared to have a rear door taped on.

Rhonda shares a rental house with her teens and one adult daughter, along with the daughter’s boyfriend and their baby. Rhonda said she receives $590 in monthly welfare benefits and she doesn’t have a job. Her husband left her for another woman and she hasn’t heard from him, she said.

“Nobody wants to employ me,” she continued. “I’m missing teeth, I have a felony record.”

She admits to drug abuse, but said she’s been clean for three years. She also confessed to a past history of prostitution and shoplifting.

Her gig on the Lake Elsinore street corner Wednesday was learned: Her mom did it before she died. 

She told her kids, “I have to try what Grandma did.”

Renee September 19, 2013 at 11:35 AM
I hope this story brings "her" story to the public eye and people STOP giving her free-B's... I am very impressed with the writer of this article mentioning the ADULT "children" at home and the boyfriend... Good way to show us people that feel bad when we don't give in to beggars that we do not need to feel guilty for what we have and work for.. We do not need to feel bad for what we do not want to give away when someone stands on a street corner with a good pick up line... I once met a group of beggars that stand behind Wal-Mart in Redlands by the freeway... I was helping a group that went out on Holidays to pass out sack lunches to homeless. They all gathered to see what we had; only a few took the lunches but they spoke openly with us about their situations. One of them had an apt and they told us they make a lot of money doing this, and one guy even showed us all the cash he had in his pocket; it was more than I had. They openly admitted to doing drugs. I know there are people in need that we should help... What's hard is knowing the difference between someone like the people I mentioned and those truly in need.
Roberto September 19, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Years ago when I was young and naïve, a couple approached me with a gas can asking for a couple of dollars while I was pumping gas. gave them a couple of dollars which they took and I later seen them down the road drinking in public. Lesson I learned is many of these people are street wise and pick your charities carefully. There are scams everywhere trying to separate you and your hard earned dollars. They even sometimes appear to be legitimate like the Scam being run by this woman.
Josh September 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM
The erosion of "community" prevents us from knowing who is truly in need and who is scamming. How many of you really know your neighbor and if they were in need how many of them would express it after seeing the prevailing attitudes. Is a tough situation and I don't wish it on anyone but we are all susceptible. Scammers exist because people actually give them money, if they didn't they would go away. Stop giving them money and donate it to the organizations who are set up to help the legitimate.
Erin September 19, 2013 at 01:23 PM
I saw her in Lake Forest a couple of months ago too!
Jessica Ann Lopez December 23, 2013 at 05:15 PM
We tried giving her diapers and she stated, 'I prefer money mam." Yup she is scamming.

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