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GLOBE SANTA

All I want for Christmas is a place to call home

Families write to Globe Santa from temporary shelters

For 67 years Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, has provided gifts to children in need at holiday time. Please consider giving by phone, mail, or online at globesanta.org.

The holidays are a time for families, if you’re lucky enough to belong to one. They’re a time for feasting around a table, if you can afford the food. They’re a time to dress a tree in candy canes and tinsel, to string twinkly lights all around the house — if you have a home.

If you don’t, and money is short, and you have no one to lean on, the holidays can be particularly cruel.

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“I am a single mother of a 6-year-old girl. We are currently homeless in a shelter.”

Her letter to Globe Santa is honest and sad. Her brother is an addict; her daughter’s father is an alcoholic. She knew she had to leave.

“I just wanted to get away from all the negative things and do better for my daughter,” she writes. “During the time I became homeless I was not able to work, because I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder.”

It is for her daughter that she tells her story.

“My daughter is a really good kid,” she says. “We will really appreciate anything, even the littlest things. I wish I could give her more gifts, and a better life.”

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in, Robert Frost wrote. His poem was centered on a farm, but those words could also allude to temporary housing. Shelters exist because sometimes people have to go there, because there is nowhere else, because they had to leave where they were, because for any number of reasons they lost and still lack the means to house themselves.

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“Since last year our family has been living in a shelter,” writes the mother of a little girl of 2. “Although we are thankful that we at last have a roof over our head, our living situation is not the greatest.”

This is the second time she has asked for Globe Santa’s help. “Last year you put a smile on my child’s little face. When she received a gift from you, we watched her play with it, with excitement, every day. Our family was so thankful and humbled, because it was difficult to buy her a present.”

She writes in hope of seeing her child’s face light up again. “We only want to see her happy and grow up remembering that there is a lot of opportunities in this world, despite the daily struggles.”

Shelters are at best temporary solutions to intractable problems. They also fill up, in a sign of hard economic times, and then there really is no room at the inn. For those without options, they are the definition of safe harbor.

The mother of two boys, 11 and 2, writes of arriving in the country earlier in the year, refugees from Haiti’s downward spiral. “We are happy we did, but adjusting is not easy. We are considered homeless. We are living in a shelter apartment,” she writes.

Her concerns are for her kids. “Our boys do not have toys or educational supplies. Our 2-year-old is constantly looking for something to play with and a way to stimulate his mind.”

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The older son “is fortunate to have school,” but he is eager for more. So she asks for help.

“We struggle to pay for necessities and are afraid we will not be able to buy any Christmas gifts. We do not want our boys waking up on Christmas Day without a gift or two to open. Can you help us Globe Santa?”

Thanks to the generosity of thousands of donors, this venerable program of the Boston Globe Foundation has been helping for 67 years, providing toys and books and games for children in situations like these. For boys like the 4-year-old, whose mother writes for him, “I know you are very truly busy on Christmas, and I also understand if you don’t have much help left. But if you do want to help, I will be in my shelter, in my room.”

For the 10-year-old boy, writing for himself and for his brother, 8, to tell Globe Santa of their Christmas miracle. “My mom is a single parent. She has a lot of medical problems, and she struggles financially,” he writes. But even with those struggles, “We will be moving to a new apartment soon.”

“We are not sure if we will get any Christmas presents this year, but that’s okay. We will be happy to have a place to call home.”


Ellen Bartlett can be reached at ellen.bartlett@globe.com.