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Job loss brings hardship to family

Two children watched NECN’s Nelly Carreño with Santa.

Cecille Joan Avila for the Boston Globe

Two children watched NECN’s Nelly Carreño with Santa.

Being let go from a job after more than a decade would be a setback for most anyone.

But when a single mother who was stretching every dollar to support her 6-year-old son was told in 2012 that her position was eliminated, she could scarcely imagine the magnitude of the struggles ahead.

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For a time, she got by with help from unemployment insurance and food stamps, assuming that 20 years of experience in a professional work environment would surely mean that she would not be out of work for long.

“The past two years have been especially tumultuous,” the boy’s mother wrote in a letter to Globe Santa. “As of now, my son and I are essentially homeless.”

In April, the building where she and her son shared an apartment was sold. Faced with a steep rent increase, they had no choice but to vacate, she wrote.

Her parents now help provide shelter for her 6-year-old while she goes from one friend’s couch to another. Her parents live in public housing, which means she and her son cannot move in with them under the terms of their lease. Nonetheless, their generosity has been invaluable, she wrote.

“They are in their 80s and are on fixed incomes,” she wrote. “But they have been amazing helping me care for my son.”

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For the last 18 months, this single mother has repeatedly hit the same roadblock in her quest for employment. Her years in the workforce make her overqualified for many retail and food service positions, but her lack of a college degree all but eliminate her from consideration for positions similar to the one she lost.

Not being one to sit idly, or succumb to self-pity, she enrolled at Roxbury Community College and is on schedule to earn in spring an associate’s degree , which she hopes will improve her job prospects. In the meantime, however, she wants her young son to have a merry Christmas, particularly after all the upheaval he has endured.

“I can’t afford to buy him gifts and my parents are stretched to their limits, but it would be wonderful if we could make this Christmas a good one for him,” she wrote.

“He is an intelligent and articulate boy who always shows compassion for those around him and is more worried about me than he is for himself. I’d really appreciate your help making this a great Christmas for him.”

This 6-year-old boy will join tens of thousands of other children in opening gifts from Santa Claus on Christmas morning. Last year, 49,147 children in 28,058 families throughout Eastern Massachusetts received gifts from Globe Santa.

Globe Santa uses every dollar donated to buy toys for children; the Boston Globe and the Globe Foundation pay all of the administrative costs associated with the campaign. Donations can be made in person by stopping by Globe Santa’s sleigh, online, or by mail.

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