HOLIDAY (FOX 13) - Mark Purcell first thought a bundle of bags outside Pasco County's Metropolitan Ministries was a donation, or leftover trash, but after a closer look, he found two children, dirty and only in diapers, nestled between trash bags.
"There were actually four or five bags here. A child in a car seat was on top of a bag. The other child was sitting here with his feet, cold. They were only in diapers, no clothes," he described.
The children, who are brothers, were only 7-months old and 2-years old. Their mother was around the corner, hiding from Purcell.
Metropolitan Ministries learned the family was homeless and living in a tent in the woods.
Pastor Ronnie Stewart and his wife Krystal of Refuge Church say the family would often eat at the church's soup kitchen.
One night in November, the pastor asked if they could take the kids home to clean them up and warm them from the cold.
"They were covered in bug bites, head to toe. They were so filthy, that we actually had to bathe, and drain, and bathe again, two different times. The toddler who did have shoes on didn't have any socks on. When we took his shoes off, the little skin on the top of his feet actually came off," Krystal said.
They never knew that one night would turn into five months.
"We're walking out of service to our car and the parents approach us with their children and a social worker and ask us, 'Would you be willing to temporarily take our children while we decide what we're going to do?' We just looked at each other and knew, there was no other option. Of course we said yes," she recalled.
Since then, the boys' parents have signed over custody to the Stewarts, and their family of five is about to get even bigger. They're adopting the brothers.
"We had to get a bigger car, a car that seats seven! It takes a little longer to get out of the house," Ronnie smiled.
It's a calling they never saw coming, something the Stewarts believe is part of a bigger plan for the boys.
"We don't look at it as we are something special, we know that they are special, and we're just excited to be part of their journey," Krystal said.
The Stewarts are now working to raise the $10,000 needed to complete the adoption process in the next 45 days. For more information, visit GoFundMe.com/stewartadoption.