The mother of an 11-year-old battling leukemia. The single father of a 7-year-old girl who was near the Boston Marathon finish line. The mother who fled an abusive relationship.
They are among thousands who asked Globe Santa for help so that their children, 12 years old or younger, could have a reason to smile this Christmas.
And because of the generosity of thousands of Globe Santa friends, their children are among 45,633 kids in 25,927 needy Greater Boston families who have presents to open on Christmas morning.
The gifts were delivered by the men and women of the US Postal Service after Globe truck drivers distributed them to post offices in the dozens of Eastern Massachusetts communities served by Globe Santa. Many Globe Santa workers were still on the job Christmas Eve, making sure packages were delivered on time.
Over 58 years, Globe Santa has provided gifts for 2,802,536 children in 1,127,515 families. And each of those years, many of the cash contributions made to the Globe Santa Fund have come from people who, when they were children in needy families, received toys because of the generosity of Globe Santa’s thousands of friends.
“I once was a child whose Christmas was made happy thanks to Globe Santa,” were words often repeated in the messages left by donors who made their contributions online.
So many of those who asked for help this year never thought they would be the ones who needed to ask.
“My 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago,” the girl’s mother wrote in a letter to Globe Santa. “Since that devastating day, our lives have been turned upside down in every way.”
The girl continues to battle courageously, her mother wrote, but has faced numerous setbacks, in addition to the painfully aggressive treatment necessary to fight the disease. As though the emotional distress were not heavy enough, the girl’s mother is also facing major medical expenses and was worried that without help, her daughter would not have any presents to open at Christmas.
The father of the girl who suffered hearing problems from the bombs that shook the Boston Marathon finish line said the 7-year-old showed empathy far beyond her years since that terrible day.
“She asked her teacher if the class could write letters to the people who were injured to help them feel better,” her father wrote. “She has a tremendous love of life and is always so concerned about helping others.”
The father, a carpenter by trade, was badly injured some three years ago, and despite two knee replacements and numerous other surgeries, is still faced with the possibility of having a leg amputated.
“I’m now left on disability, which doesn’t even cover my rent,” he wrote.
The way the annual fund drive is set up, the money raised this Christmas season goes to buying the gifts for Christmas 2014. This way, the Globe Santa’s professional buyers are able to begin purchasing toys in the spring and summer at much lower prices. The gifts are then delivered to a Globe facility in Millbury and work can begin far ahead of Christmas in organizing the gift bins.
This preplanning comes in handy when the matter is bringing gifts to families whose plans have gone awry.
Such was the case for a Boston woman who, after years of feeling trapped in a relationship but afraid to leave, summoned the courage to make a change. Asking for help was something she had not imagined needing to do.
“The abrupt nature of things was necessary, but it resulted in the loss of everything,” the woman wrote to Globe Santa. “Although this is a hard time, I cannot state enough, it was the right decision.”
The woman and her 10-year-old daughter have spent most of the past year living in a motel room as part of the state’s family shelter system. It has been extremely unsettling for her daughter to be separated from friends and forced to commute a long distance to school, her mother wrote, but they are persevering.
“In time, I hope we can take a deep breath and relax, if only for a moment,” she wrote.
Like any parents who want their children to have a good Christmas, those asking for gifts were aware that they are not alone. They told their stories with emotion, but their requests were made with quiet dignity.
“I would just like to give them a good Christmas this year and lift their spirits a little bit,” one letter concluded. “I could go on and on about all the hard times these kids have gone through, but I’m sure you read enough sad situations so I’ll stop there. I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter.”