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Santa Fund asks for gift cards for her daughter

MANCHESTER - Despite recent setbacks that Karen understates as a "rough time," help from the New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army would provide her daughter with a memorable Christmas.

Karen (not her real name), who was laid off from her nursing position a year ago in a downsizing, discovered her unemployment will expire soon and won't be extended. She's three months behind on her mortgage and condo fees, receives food stamps to feed her daughter with special needs and recently had an operation on her foot, leaving her unable to drive for a short time. Her monthly deductible for Medicaid is $500.

"After my unemployment benefits run out at the end of December, I won't have any income at all," Karen said. "I'm trying to figure out what to do and meet it as best as I can."

"It's scary," she said. "If it was just me it wouldn't be such an issue. Anyone depending upon you makes it very tough. Every single penny counts. I ran through most of my 401k last year just to pay bills. I cut back on any non-essential things. I don't have any luxury items, fancy phones or things like that."

Still, she's already put away a few things and started decorating to give her daughter, 6, a nice Christmas.

"A big tree costs too much," she said. "We've got a tabletop tree this year. She's happy and that's what matters to me."

Karen is married, but her husband doesn't live with them. Her daughter has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, sensory issues, oppositional behavior and a mood disorder.

"It's hard to take care of her, and I can't get just any baby-sitter anywhere, so that makes it harder."

The medications her daughter requires make her gain weight, requiring new pants to be adjustable with an elastic waist band to fit correctly.

"Gift cards are really the best because then I can get something specific for her size and needs," she said.

Not surprisingly, Karen hasn't thought about her needs.

"Me? I haven't thought about that. I think of her first, as most moms and dads would do."

Pressed for a few possible needs, she gave a short list of basic items: "I need shoes, a winter hat, some socks and underwear," she said, "but I'm putting it on hold. I'm trying to give her something special and nice, not huge. I want to make sure that she has what she needs . and a few things on the side . that would be lovely."

A nurse with experience in neurology and triage before her department was downsized, she's hoping to use her skills to get back on her feet.

"I could work a modified shift, performing desk work at a nurse's station to stay off my foot for now . that would help me become a contributing member of society again. I need a schedule that lets me get my daughter after school and get care to help out. I guess I'll check with the Department of Health and Human Services."

Through it all, Karen's spirit remains hopeful and positive.

"I've always believed that when one door closes another one opens and that everything happens for a reason," she said.

"Overall we're healthy, have the basic needs mostly and what we don't need we can kind of get by for now. It's not where I want to be or to be in this situation ever again. It's not a good feeling. I'd like to be back working and contributing to society and have insurance and all that stuff."


The generosity of Santa Fund donors makes it possible for the holidays to still be a joyful time. The Santa Fund makes food, clothing and gifts available during the holiday season, so financially stressed families can put their resources toward paying bills for basic needs.

Santa Fund donations may be made by sending a check to the Union Leader Santa Fund, in care of the New Hampshire Union Leader, P.O. Box 9555, Manchester 03108; or by placing a donation in the Santa Fund box in the lobby of the newspaper, at 100 William Loeb Drive, Manchester, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Donations can also be made online at

Every effort is made to promptly publish Santa Fund contributions. Donors who wish to see their contributions listed before Christmas are encouraged to submit them as soon as possible. The Union Leader publishes photos of donors of $1,000 or more.

For more information, call Christy Detrude at 668-4321, ext. 507.


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