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GLOBE SANTA

The long shadow of COVID-19 lingers


Since the pandemic began, some 777,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19. In Massachusetts, the death toll stands at more than 19,000.

After nearly two years, it’s hard to truly grasp the magnitude of the pandemic’s impact.

But if you work on the front lines, it’s impossible to miss.

“During the pandemic I have worked and cared for everyone to the best of my ability,” the mother of a 4-year-old daughter wrote to Globe Santa. “These hard times include having to come home to my family not knowing if having a role as a first responder could put them at risk.”

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The mother and daughter live in Lynn, and as the state’s COVID-19 case count continues to climb, the single mother’s anguish has intensified.

“At times pushing away my daughter, coming home with dirty scrubs,” she wrote. “As happy as she was to see me, I couldn’t hug her at her moment of joy and it left me feeling guilty.”

With the holidays approaching, this mother is among the tens of thousands of parents, grandparents, guardians, siblings and other caretakers who have written to Globe Santa so their children can celebrate the season with gifts.

“I would love for her to enjoy Christmas and see the joy and happiness in her eyes,” she wrote. “Globe Santa would definitely be a plus in … keeping her spirits high. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

A couple from Everett has been affected by COVID-19 in a very different way.

“My family has been struggling this year,” the mother of a 3-year-old son wrote. “My husband is currently waiting for a kidney transplant due to covid that caused kidney failure.”

All the letters to Globe Santa come from families facing difficult, even tragic, circumstances. But a huge number express gratitude and thanks, despite the prospect of a painful holiday.

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“Any help this Christmas would be a true blessing,” the mother wrote. “Throughout all this, I’m thankful that we will all be together for the holidays.”

She concluded her letter with a very familiar refrain. “We truly appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts. "

For 66 years, Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, has provide books, toys, games, and other gifts to families in need during the holiday season.

You can help make a child happy by giving to Globe Santa by phone, mail or online at globesanta.org.

Christopher Tangney can be reached at ctangney22@hotmail.com.