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Globe Santa steps in when illness strikes a family

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.
Heartfelt artwork graces a child's letter to Globe Santa.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Few things are as disruptive to someone’s financial security — not to mention emotional well-being — as becoming seriously ill.

And few letters to Globe Santa are as heart-wrenching as those from parents stricken with illness.

“I am writing this letter to ask for help with presents for 2 of my children,” a Boston mother wrote to Globe Santa. “I am currently fighting cancer and getting chemo.”

Her sons are 8 and 2 and could use a break. “They are beautiful and smart little boys that deserve a beautiful Christmas,” she wrote.

Sifting through a sampling of letters to Globe Santa, the specific conditions and circumstances affecting families are vastly different, but the resulting hardships are strikingly similar.


“I am a single mother of two boys and was diagnosed 2.5 years ago with congestive heart failure,” says a letter from a parent outside Boston. “I am unable to work and money is tighter than ever before.”

Another mother from Boston — also battling cancer — asked Globe Santa to visit her 3-year-old fraternal twins. They’ve had a rough go of it.

In addition to her frightening diagnosis, the family’s apartment flooded this year, displacing them for nearly three months.

“This year has been financially bad for me,” she wrote. “I want to give them something so they don’t feel sad or upset. For them, it’s a magical day.”

Helping parents keep the magic of the holiday season alive for children is a pretty accurate assessment of Globe Santa’s mission.

And as tough as it for families to cope when one or both parents gets sick, it’s perhaps even worse when a child faces a life-threatening condition.

A couple from a town south of Boston watched as their 2-year-old daughter spent six months this year at Boston Children’s Hospital after being diagnosed with a form of blood cancer.


“She underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant,” the child’s mother wrote. “She was just able to come home last week.”

Both parents exhausted their paid leave time from work so they could be with their daughter during treatment and try and keep up some semblance of a normal routine for her older sister, who is 6.

“The cancer diagnosis emotionally, practically and financially impacted us more than we could ever imagine,” she wrote. “Medical bills, insurance premiums, travel to and from the hospital, food costs, and maintaining the household costs made dealing with the diagnosis even more stressful.”

Her daughter is home now but must remain isolated for several months, with a full-time caregiver, to protect against infections.

Still, it’s a huge step in the right direction. “We are looking forward to a ‘new normal’ at home, and a new way to celebrate the holidays,” the girls’ mother wrote.

Globe Santa will be part of the celebration.

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.