Woman raising 12 children after her sister dies from COVID-19 complications

"She was the glue that kept everybody together."

An Alabama woman is now caring for 12 children after her sister, a mother of five, died from complications of COVID-19.

Francesca McCall, a mother of nine herself, said she's taken in Zariah 17, De Alvion, 15, Angel, 13, Trinity, 6, Serenity, 5, after 34-year-old home healthcare worker Chantale McCall died at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, on Sept. 16.

"She was the glue that kept everybody together," McCall, 40, told "Good Morning America" of her sister. "She was strong in raising her kids. I loved that about her. We always used to talk about how if anything were to happen to her that we want all the children to stay together. Being that I'm the older sister... I was going to make sure not to separate them."

McCall's own children include La-Keria, 15, Ashanti, 14, Saaphyri, 13, Aniyah, 11, Trenton, 7, Heavenly, 4, Chayha, 1 and two more sons--one who's off to college, and another who lives with his father, she said.

McCall said her sister was hospitalized Sept. 1 after testing positive for COVID-19, and had underlying conditions such as bronchitis and asthma. Chantale McCall's husband also died from complications of the virus on Oct. 25, which would've been Chantale's 35th birthday, McCall said.

"Being able to call her on the phone and talk to her about anything--I'm going to miss that, and us being together with the kids," McCall said.

Once her sister passed, McCall had her nieces and nephew come live with her and their cousins.

"It's been ups and downs and chaos and loud," McCall said. "It doesn't bother me. It's just a change for them being together all the time."

McCall, who works in insurance, said her job allows her to work remotely so she can balance her career and homeschooling the kids.

McCall's mother, Sandra McCall, has helped to care for the children and Carla McDonald, McCall's friends from church, offered to sponsor them for Christmas. McDonald also helped McCall launch a crowdfunding page, "Sister Vows to Care for Deceased Sister's Children," to raise money to purchase a larger vehicle and home.

"There's love in that home," McDonald told "GMA." "Francesca has never complained. She has not asked for anything. You have to ask her, 'What can I do?'"

McDonald and McCall met at West End Purity Holiness Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where McDonald's brother is the pastor. McDonald's daughter Raven, is now mentoring McCall's niece Zariah, and helping her through the college application process, McCall said.

"I'm taking it day by day," McCall added. "I'm trying to make my sister proud."

McCall said the children enjoy making TikTok videos together and are looking forward to decorating for Christmas.