A grandmother caring for her granddaughter asks for help at Christmas

Justin Saglio for the boston globe

Marla Smith (left), Cheryl LoMaglio-Puleio, and Rose Coviello (right) joined Globe Santa executive director Bill Connolly to give him a donation of $1,352 from the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale, and Dorr LLP.

By Christopher Tangney Globe Santa Staff 

It has been mentioned here before that an increasing number of requests for help sent to Globe Santa are from grandparents who have been thrust into the role of primary caretaker for their grandchildren.

The stories behind these cases are heartbreaking, and the most common culprit is addiction to drugs or alcohol. Children of active addicts face painful and confusing situations that leave huge holes in their lives.


That is the case for a grandmother from a seaside community northeast of Boston, whose life has been turned upside down because her daughter is struggling with drug addiction and cannot care for her 8-year-old. A little more than a year ago, the grandmother took the girl into her home and has petitioned the court for permanent custody.

“What started out as a temporary arrangement has become a complex court battle to keep [the child] safe,” she wrote in a letter to Globe Santa. “I just never had these expenses in mind while saving for retirement.”

Change is notoriously tough for most people. Now imagine an 8-year-old forced to move out of her mother’s house to a new town away from friends and to watch the relationship between two people she loves deteriorate into endless arguing, upheaval, and ultimately a court battle.

Thankfully, children can be quite resilient and the little girl is adapting to the situation as time passes, her grandmother wrote.

“She has transitioned to living with me and being in a new school very well,” the girl’s grandmother wrote. “She is an easygoing, well-behaved little sweetheart. She works very hard in school and is making remarkable progress in catching up with the other 2nd graders. Unfortunately, her mother is still struggling.”


Taking care of her grandchild gives her great pleasure, the letter continued, but it also carries with it the burden of extra expenses, leaving little for gifts at Christmas. The sting of their financial situation is extra sharp when the holiday season arrives, so the grandmother wrote to Globe Santa to ask for a hand.

She wrapped up her note with concern for her granddaughter.

“Knowing she is safe and happy is worth more than anything I could ever imagine. She is the light of my life,” the grandmother wrote. “I know she will be very happy with whatever you choose for her and I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for your generosity.”

Since 1956, Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, has helped families like this one throughout Eastern Massachusetts by delivering Christmas presents for children.

This little girl will be among the thousands who receive gifts from Globe Santa this year, due to the kindness of individuals, groups and local businesses, many of whom have made giving to Globe Santa a part of their Christmas tradition.

Last year alone, Globe Santa, visited nearly 20,000 homes and 35,570 children found gifts under their tree instead of wondering why they were left out.


Please consider giving by mail, telephone, or at Your donation will help put a smile on a child’s face Christmas morning.

Tangney can be reached at