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THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Family illnesses add to the burden

Gifts sought for children fighting bravely

Markus Ripperger, Cheers and Hampshire House vice president of operations; William Connolly, Globe Santa director; Thomas Kershaw, owner; and various employees presented their contribution to Globe Santa yesterday. Markus Ripperger, Cheers and Hampshire House vice president of operations; William Connolly, Globe Santa director; Thomas Kershaw, owner; and various employees presented their contribution to Globe Santa yesterday. (MARY O’CONNOR FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE)
By Christopher Tangney
Globe Correspondent / December 8, 2011
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Some of the most heart-wrenching stories included in the thousands of letters that stream into Globe Santa’s mail bin each year involve children battling serious injuries and illnesses. Instead of learning their ABCs or how to ride a bicycle, these boys and girls have often spent most of their young life struggling to survive.

“I am writing this letter for a 2-year-old boy,’’ a nurse at the Shriners Burn Institute wrote to Globe Santa. “His mother does not speak English, and they came to the US in January 2010, so her son could be treated for severe burns he suffered in Haiti when he was 6 months old.’’

The mother and her son left a large family behind in Haiti and have not seen them since the accident, wrote the early intervention nurse, who has helped treat the boy since they arrived. She added that a local church member has provided the pair with a room in her home near the hospital and that the boy’s health has improved, but he is not out of the woods yet. “He may need brain surgery soon,’’ she wrote. “Please remember him this year.’’

Meanwhile, a single mother from a community southwest of Boston sent a letter asking Globe Santa to help her with presents for her two daughters, ages 9 and 8, after what has been a very traumatic year.

She wrote in a letter that her 4-month-old son passed away from sudden infant death syndrome near the end of the summer, and her 8-year-old daughter is terminally ill with cancer.

Her family has received assistance from the Jimmy Fund clinic at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute, she said, but with the enormous financial burdens there is nothing left for Christmas gifts for her girls.

“With all the medical bills, funeral expenses, and with only having one income, it’s been really hard making ends meet,’’ she wrote.

“If you could assist us this holiday season, it would be greatly appreciated.’’

Another family from west of Boston wrote to Globe Santa after falling behind on bills when both parents lost jobs earlier this year.

To make matters worse, their 5-year-old daughter has undergone two surgeries to remove cataracts.

“This year has been full of ups and downs for us: Our beautiful second child was born, and our first-born daughter started kindergarten,’’ the mother wrote. “But we need help putting presents for our daughters under the tree.’’

These children will all find gifts from Globe Santa under their Christmas tree this year. They will be among the tens of thousands who receive a visit thanks to the generosity of Santa’s Friends, individuals, groups, local businesses and children themselves, many of whom make donating to the fund drive part of their holiday tradition.

The first Globe Santa campaign was carried out in 1955. Since that time, thanks to $40,000,016 contributed by thousands of Globe Santa Friends, Globe Santa has been able to provide gifts for some 2,560,000 children in more than 1 million Eastern Massachusetts families.

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