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Globe Santa

Illness, unemployment hit hard

Fred Toettcher and Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5’s Toucher & Rich show helped at Copley Place.

Mary O’Connor for The Boston Globe

Fred Toettcher and Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5’s Toucher & Rich show helped at Copley Place.

After spending the last 2½ years helping to care for her son after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, a mother from a community south of Boston was hoping that her family was finally approaching better days.

But several months ago, she wrote in a letter to Globe Santa, she and her husband learned their other son had a rare auto-immune disorder and would need extensive medical treatment, probably for the rest of his life.

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As if that weren’t enough, both she and her husband are newly unemployed.

“Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, my husband got laid off of his job,” she wrote. “This March, I was laid off from my job.”

For the last nine months, her letter continued, they have struggled to make ends meet with unemployment benefits and help from family members. In a relatively short time, the family of five has gone from living reasonably within their means to being grateful for the food stamps that help ensure they do not go hungry.

“We went from no worries to every worry possible, to losing everything we worked our whole lives for,” she told Globe Santa. “And in the middle of all this my 12-year-old daughter has had to suffer and deal with her two older brothers being sick.”

Despite it being difficult for her to tell her family’s story to Globe Santa, the thought of seeing her daughter sadly disappointed at Christmas was enough to make this mother pick up a pen.

“My eyes fill as I write this letter to have to ask for help,” she wrote. “Both me and my husband struggle every day to find work and give my daughter everything we were able to give our sons growing up.”

Her 12-year-old has spent much of the last few years in fear of what might happen to her older brothers, while also being well aware of the family’s financial troubles. She asks for very little, her mother wrote, yet there are times when something relatively minor is still too much.

“She sees me and her dad struggling and feels afraid to ask for things,” her mother wrote. “It breaks my heart to have to say no to her. I thank you for any and all the help you might be able to give to us to help her enjoy Christmas this year.”

This young girl will indeed join tens of thousands of other children across Eastern Massachusetts this year in receiving a visit from Globe Santa, continuing a tradition that began in 1956.

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