As Globe Santa staff members process the thousands of letters from families in need this Christmas, many of the requests are from parents who are battling serious illnesses.
Mothers and fathers find their worlds turned upside-down and priorities forever altered by the frightening prospect that they are, in some cases, fighting for their lives.
The single mother of a 3-year-old boy from south of Boston was enjoying the first hint of spring last April and looking forward to some summer fun with her toddler when she got the news. The young woman was diagnosed with breast cancer and would need to begin chemotherapy immediately.
“I recently finished my chemo treatment but have surgery and reconstructive treatments through the rest of the year,” she wrote in a letter to Globe Santa.
She’s been unable to go to work and said the soonest she can hope to return is sometime next year.
She wrote to Globe Santa because she wants her son to have a few gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning.
“This year has been quite a battle, and I need help!” she wrote. “Thank you and happy holidays.”
Another woman from the South Shore wrote to Globe Santa on behalf of her husband and their 11-year-old daughter. Her husband’s small business has struggled to stay afloat in the past few years, she wrote, but they were doing all right. Then last spring his doctor delivered the somber news: He had kidney cancer.
With her husband undergoing treatment and unable to work, the family is relying on her salary alone — and driving a school bus for special needs students just doesn’t pay enough to cover all their expenses. Extras have long since become a thing of the past.
“We’ve always worked so hard for what we have, and I’ve never asked anyone for help,” she wrote. “But if you could help our daughter that would be wonderful because she still believes in Santa Claus.”
These two families will join tens of thousands of others whose Christmas will be made brighter this year thanks to a visit from Globe Santa. Last year, 49,147 children in 28,058 families throughout Eastern Massachusetts received gifts from the campaign.
The fund drive’s success is only made possible by the generosity of those who donate, and at least a million dollars has been raised annually for some 20 consecutive years from individuals, groups, businesses, community organizations, even other children.
Globe Santa uses all donations to buy and deliver toys to children; the Boston Globe and the Globe Foundation pay all administrative costs associated with the campaign.