OHIO — A mother who lost two of her children to drugs is now helping families who have experienced the tragedy of the opioid crisis. 

What You Need To Know

  • Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia are considered by many to be the states worst hit by the opioid and heroin epidemics 

  • Approximately 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in 2019

  • An estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid

  • More than 130 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses

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

"Project Noelle is named after my daughter, Noelle, (who) passed away of an overdose in 2017," said Keli Clark, the founder of the organization.

Clark said she's now raising Noelle's twin boys. 

Even though Clark was dealing with grief, she wanted to help others, so she started "Project Noelle," a local charity focusing on children affected by the drug epidemic.

"This Santa's workshop, this is where we store everything from our toy drives and such," said Clark.

Recently, "Project Noelle and the Sandusky Police Department joined forces and held a toy drive to bring some smiles at a time when kids of this opioid crisis could use them. 

"People that are going through 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 unfortunately also died of an overdose this year. 

Costante helps the charity as much as possible because he knows their pain.

"Phone rings are something (that's) going to happen every time a police car drives by.  Knowing that and I know that tragedy personally of what that feels like and when you see these people trying to help these families out, offer them support, it's just something easy to get behind," said Costante. 

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

"My son also passed away of an overdose September 1st of this year, and he's been amazing, so I can't say enough about the police here in Sandusky," said Clark.

Since Noelle's death, her charity has grown to help others in two states.

"This is like Christmas No. 5, and we are in 22 Ohio counties and six Florida counties," said Clark.