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South Dakota mom battles mountain of debt after rough start to adulthood

Posted at 12:33 PM, Dec 20, 2019

CANTON, S.D. – No matter where you live in the United States, debt can play a big role in your life.

Sarah Woods of Canton, South Dakota, has battled debt nearly her entire life, almost two decades.

“Debt seems like almost a constant way of life,” said Woods.

But life, some might argue, wasn't fair to Woods.

“Within three months I got married, found out I had cancer and also had our first child,” said Woods. “So, you take three of the biggest things that could possibly happen in our life and roll them into your early 20s, I mean you’re going to start out on the wrong foot and since then it’s just been one struggle after another.”

Woods and her husband now have three boys and taking care of them isn’t cheap. Woods says some months their pantry's been bare.

“To actually have to reach out and say no, we are personally struggling is a hard one,” said Woods.

Lori Pudenz helps with the food pantry that's run out of the Canton Lutheran Church, where Woods works. Pudenz says the pantry’s been a huge blessing.

“My opinion is nobody should go hungry and that’s what we’re here for,” said Pudenz.

Woods' husband is a machinist and she works full-time at the church, but it still hasn't been enough to overcome a mountain of debt that began with cancer at 19 years old.

“I couldn’t imagine having an extra $20 in my bank account that wasn’t due to someone else.”

Not all of Woods’ debt has come from being a victim of circumstances. She admittedly says she has made some very bad decisions. But what has changed her life is a class on debt taught at the church where she works.

“I can see light at the end of the tunnel,” said Woods. “We’re definitely getting there. I’ve been able to learn a lot of different life skills and really face my debts.”

And after a full day at work at the church, Woods goes to work at home. She has created a plus size boutique called Becky’s Closet.

“The last few months have been tremendous for business. It has created Christmas for us.”