Dawn Pecoraro adopts woman and her daughters for Christmas

by: ANDY MCCANDLESS - Lake Oswego Police Officer Dawn Pecoraro, left, helped make it a happy Christmas for Danielle and her family in Lake Oswego. Michelle's Love really struck a chord with the police officer.Andy McCandless lost her best friend to cancer in 2005. Michelle Singleton was only 32 years old. She was a single mother with four children.

For a while McCandless was crushed with feelings of futility and sorrow. But she wasn’t that way for long. Instead, she started an organization in Singleton’s honor called Michelle’s Love. It shows love for young mothers enduring the same dilemma endured by Singleton: women suffering from cancer and being unable to give enough care for their children.

“After seeing what Michelle went through, I wanted to help somebody,” McCandless said. “It turned into something bigger.”

Michelle’s Love is now big enough to reach into Lake Oswego to adopt a family for Christmas. Darlene, whose last name wasn’t provided to protect her family’s privacy, is a single mom with two daughters, Danielle and Erica, and she is suffering from cancer. Because of Michelle’s Love, her holiday was much brighter.

Michelle’s Love has a bunch of eager volunteers who can be counted on to show up and help a struggling mom. But in Darlene’s case it was Dawn Pecoraro who really stepped forward. Pecoraro was already very busy as an officer in the Lake Oswego Police Department and was already doing charity work in the community. But when she found out about Michelle’s Love, something clicked for Pecoraro.

“I saw a news clip on them a few months back,” she said. “It sort of inspired me. Then I saw their website and called Andy. I said, ‘Hey, I’m available.’ It is so traumatic for a single mom to go through cancer. I asked myself, ‘What if my best friend went through this?’ The passion to help in Michelle’s Love really struck me.”

Soon after Pecoraro became involved she took the step of adopting Darlene and her girls for Christmas. Joining her in the adoption was Jessica Lindley, another Lake Oswego resident. She is also a single mother and is fighting papillary thyroid cancer.

On Dec. 23, Pecoraro, Lindley and McCandless all showed up at Darlene’s home in Lake Oswego, providing cleaning, cooking, financial help and gifts for the daughters. Santa Claus was quite outclassed.

Darlene sent McCandless a message: “Merry Christmas and thank you. My girls loved everything and I thank those angels who made our Christmas special.”

Darlene was grateful to Michelle’s Love, and McCandless was grateful to Dawn Pecoraro.

“We have 400 people in our database,” McCandless said. “But Dawn is one in a million. Since she found out about ML she has donated money, adopted Darlene for Christmas and, most importantly, shared our ML story with pretty much everyone.”

For more information, go to the website

Cliff Newell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 105.

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