Shane Palmer, right, kisses his fiancee, Maria Maior, outside the storage unit in which they live with her 12-year-old son and their two dogs. The family moved into the 10-foot-by-24-foot bunker late in the summer after a long run of bad luck and the loss of both of their jobs. Waking up early, before any storage facility workers arrive, is one part of the family's elaborate daily choreography -- along with knowing the fast-food restaurants where you can wash, doing homework by candlelight or flashlight and preparing dinner on a propane grill, which also serves as the primary source of heat. After featuring their story in the Oct. 28 Chicago Tribune the family received an outpouring of donations, from dog food to cash, allowing the family to move out of the cold 10-by-24-foot unit and into an Itasca motel. "I never dreamed that so many people would care," said the 39-year-old mother. "They didn't even know us, and yet they were willing to help us out."
Tribune photo by David Pierini