Sabrina and Elizabeth Seals are growing up fast. Way, way too fast.

The two Hutto High School students are dealing with cruel lessons of real life because they are having to endure the death of their beloved mother, Emily Seals.

“Going through all this stuff about cancer and dying taught me that even the toughest and strongest people can fall,” 18-year-old Sabrina said. “And that it not only causes pain and trouble for Mom, but everyone who knows and loves her.”

She and her 16-year-old sister, Beth, are taking a mature, chin-up attitude toward the ordeal their family has been through.

“This has taught me how to take extra care of my family,” Beth said. “I learned to be more prepared for anything, but sadly this has taught me that there is no one I can trust if that person is not in my household.”

After their mother's cervical cancer diagnosis almost a year ago and the loss of their home, they rallied to her support and worked with their father to create the most loving environment possible. Their mother died Nov. 8.

The Seals family is part of the Statesman Season for Caring program, which features 12 families and helps hundreds of others through local nonprofit organizations. The Seals family was nominated by CareBox Program.

People have read their story and wanted to help. The Hutto High School choir will be asking for donations to raise money for CareBox Program during its choir concert Monday. It's the second year the choir has raised money for Hutto families and a Season for Caring agency.

Since Nov. 28, the four choir classes have had a jar out on a piano for donations. They've also sold sodas and waters after school. As of Friday, they had raised about $250, and a donor will match that.

"It's teaching them empathy," choir director Roseanne Kokas said. "I have been really astounded at what they have been doing."

While the school has a tradition of raising money every October for breast cancer and a scholarship in honor of teacher Janet Jones, who died of the disease, the students were the ones that suggested that this year they should put out the jar early before the concert to help CareBox Program and Season for Caring.

"I've been very impressed and proud of all the children," Kokas said. "It's made my Christmas."

Hutto High is one of three schools with groups helping Season for Caring. Westwood High School parents are working to help Keith Desilets, who is a groundskeeper at the school and has cerebral palsy. Grisham Middle School students are bringing gifts to help the Duroy family, who also lost a mother to cervical cancer.

Other folks also are helping the Seals family. Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Homes and Cremation Services donated the cost of Emily's funeral. Attorney Don Carnes is helping the family settle her estate. Readers have donated a few gift cards and are working on laptops for the girls.

Their father, Basil Seals, 42, really wants to make sure his girls have a good Christmas. Sabrina loves books like "The Flight of the Dragons" and "The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles" and series such as "Sisters Grimm," "Harry Potter," "Jane and Dragon," "Reluctant Dragon," and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." She'd also like black Mary Jane shoes size 7½ narrow; a Swiper the Fox plushie; a denim jacket and striped leggings; a nail polish set and fingerless gloves. Elizabeth wants a dream catcher; a twin-size, extra long soft blanket; "Animal Farm" book; anything anime, mermaid or Disney; a cute pillow; hair sticks or a flower headband; makeup; earring cuffs; sweatshirts; and a denim jacket or vest.

"Sabrina is taking it the hardest," Basil Seals said of his wife's death. "She gets frustrated because she can't cry any more. Beth seems to be in a bit of denial, but she's finding fun parts of the day. That's her spirit. She always finds the beautiful parts of the day even when it's raining.

"My oldest daughter wears her emotions on her sleeve, and things take longer to heal emotionally. My youngest snaps back pretty fast. She's all about the life of today, not the pain of yesterday."

To find out more about the Seals family or to give an item on the wish list, contact CareBox Program, 512-296-2180, careboxprogram.org.

// // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // // //