Gifts will help young mom, daughter on road to new life

Photos by Mary O’Connor for the Boston Globe

Gathering the resolve to break free from an abusive relationship is often the first step in a very long road to recovery.

But for a young mother from Dorchester, the choice to get herself and her newborn daughter to safety two years ago has been worth every ounce of effort, she said in a letter to Globe Santa.

“I began to think about my goals,” she wrote. “My daughter deserved better.”

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After spending months sleeping alongside the little girl on a couch at her mother’s house, she and her daughter were placed in a state shelter in Peabody and onto a waiting list for affordable housing. She returned to school and has done well in pursuit of a college degree, she wrote, but the time they stayed at the shelter was often overwhelming.

“In the shelter, I had difficult times. I would wake up at 5 in the morning with my daughter to go to school, and we would take a 3-hour commute,” she wrote. “There were moments I wanted to give up. My daughter was constantly sick. I thought it was too much for her.”

She did not give up, though, and the two have since moved into a small apartment in Dorchester. They are closer to family, and the change has lifted her spirits and helped her 2-year-old return to a more reasonable schedule. Still, without steady work, she is barely scraping by and uses all the assistance she gets from state and federal agencies to cover rent, food, clothing, and utilities. Her daughter has very little in terms of extras.

“I’m writing to Globe Santa because my daughter has no toys, and this year I want to surprise her,” she wrote. “She is very smart, and she knows her ABCs, colors, and numbers in both English and Spanish.”

As much as she wants her daughter to know the thrill of finding presents from Santa on Christmas, she also looks forward to the day when she can help another family having hard times.

When I am . . . financially set, I too will donate and help another child in need,” she wrote. “My daughter is counting on me this year, and I don’t want to let her down.”

Far from being disappointed, her daughter will have gifts to unwrap and games to play with, thanks to a visit from Globe Santa. She will join more than 50,000 other children who enjoy a brighter holiday because of the goodness of others.

In 2011, Globe Santa raised $1.2 million and helped some 30,000 families throughout Eastern Massachusetts celebrate a merry Christmas morning instead of facing a difficult day.