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Grandparents lament they are ‘a little old for the task’ of raising children

Globe Santa delivers joy to children and so can you
WATCH: The initiative serves 30,000 local children every year. Executive director Bill Connolly and editor Linda Matchan have how you can contribute.

When, for a multitude of reasons, parents are unable to care for their children, family members often step in.

Sometimes, though, they are “a little old for the task,” as one grandfather acknowledged in a letter to Globe Santa. He and his wife took their grandson into their home when he was only 4 and had no one else to care for him.

Grandparents, ideally, can often offer a safe home with unconditional love. But for many it comes at a cost, and often this cost is financial.

This grandfather and his wife had been managing to stay afloat, albeit with considerable sacrifice and hard work. Sadly, things got a whole lot tougher a few years ago.


“My wife passed away unexpectedly, leaving me as the sole caretaker of [our grandson],” he wrote. “This was a challenge as I had to cut back quite a bit on my work schedule, to be able to get my grandson to school and be home to pick him up at the end of the school day.”

His grandson is now 9 and has nonetheless flourished. “He is intelligent and very energetic,” his grandfather wrote. He loves science and sports. He is really thriving in school this year. I am very proud of him.”

This year, as always, Globe Santa has heard from numerous grandparents who’ve been thrust back into the role of primary caretakers.

One woman wrote that she adopted her grandson seven years ago when he was 4; he’d spent a year in foster care after being removed from his home, due to neglect.

“Eleven years old brings a complicated relationship,” she wrote, poignantly, “in that I am 78 years old and can’t keep up with his activities, meaning playing ball or other physical games.”

A grandmother from the South Shore asked for help with gifts for the 9-year-old granddaughter she is raising. “I am 72, on pension and Social Security, and still paying a mortgage,” she wrote. Keeping up with the cost of living is nearly impossible, she said.


Another wrote that she and her husband have custody of their three grandchildren, ages 2, 9, and 10. But they are both on disability, “and only receive $231 in food stamps.” They’re working hard to give the children the life they deserve, as “they have lived a life of neglect for years. We are now showing them what everyday life could be.”

Globe Santa helps thousands of families every year celebrate the holidays with gifts for their children ­– and grandchildren, and in many cases even great-grandchildren.

Nearly 30,000 local children benefit from Globe Santa annually, and more than 3 million children have received gifts from the program over the last six decades.

Your support is needed to sustain this tradition of giving. And it’s very much appreciated.

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

For 68 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.