Cyndal Todd’s life has been something of a Cinderella story. When she was a baby and young girl, her family faced considerable hardships.
Today the 26-year-old is a paralegal, actress, and law-school student, who was crowned Miss New England Perfect 2012.
When she looks back upon her life, Todd recalls how Globe Santa played an important role in keeping up the spirits of her and her brothers through tough times. Now she wants to help Globe Santa help kids the way he helped her.
Todd was just a baby when her parents first appealed to Globe Santa in 1986 for help in bringing Christmas morning joy to their three children.
Her father, a construction worker, had recently broken his back when he fell off a roof. With the loss of his income and his mounting medical bills, the East Boston family was living on the little that her mother made as a waitress, and money for Christmas toys was not in their budget.
For three Christmases, the family wrote to Globe Santa for help, and Todd said that each year he responded with a big brown box of toys that always arrived on Christmas Eve or the day before.
In 1989, she recalled, her father returned to work and the family no longer needed Globe Santa’s help at Christmas. But a few years later, his health issues resurfaced. So her mother contacted Globe Santa again, and again he was there to help.
“Our parents always told us that Globe Santa was one of Santa’s elves and that he delivered a special box of toys just for us,” Todd said. “They would put the box right under the tree, and we would open it Christmas morning.”
She recalled that her favorite toys from the Globe Santa box were Barbie dolls.
Todd said that eventually the family’s financial problems were again solved. They moved to Revere, and she graduated from Revere High School.
In 2011 she earned a degree in accounting from Salem State University. Today she is studying to be a lawyer at Massachusetts College of Law.
In addition to working as a paralegal, Todd has acted in a number of locally filmed movies and for the past decade, she has competed in local and national beauty pageants, and often placed or won prizes. This summer, she said, she was one of 10 finalists in the Miss Perfect USA pageant in Orlando.
As a beauty queen, Todd, who now lives in Saugus, believes she is well-positioned to help charitable organizations.
Because of her own childhood experiences, she was drawn to helping children in need, and she especially wanted to support the Globe Santa program.
She said in an interview that she was surprised to realize that “no one in my age demographic seems to remember Globe Santa,” and so she decided to help change that.
“Whenever I talk to my friends about volunteer opportunities, they mention Toys for Tots or Children’s Hospital,” she said. “Those are great organizations, but Globe Santa will always be close to me.”
Through various public appearances this Christmas season, she hopes to spread the word about Globe Santa and encourage people to donate to the program.
On Friday, Todd drove from Saugus to the atrium at Copley Place to join Globe Santa in meeting kids and hearing their Christmas wishes.
“It was really fun,” she said. “There was quite a crowd of little kids. I’m not sure if they were staring more at Santa or at my crown.”
Then on Sunday she appeared again with Globe Santa, outside Paul Wahlberg’s restaurant, Alma Nove, at the Hingham Shipyard.
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Since 1956, the Globe Santa Fund has collected donations from the general public. One hundred percent of that money goes toward buying toys for Boston-area children; the Globe pays all other expenses. Last year, the program raised $1.2 million, and fulfilled the holiday wishes of children in more than 32,000 families.