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November 28. 2012 10:36PM

After tragedy, grandparents are raising three children


This 73-year-old grandmother never expected to be raising her grandchildren. But after their parents died four years ago, she took four of her grandchildren, ages 1 to 12, to live with her and her husband. (See Santa list, Page B1.)

The oldest child now lives with her father, but the three youngest still live with the woman who likes to be called "Nana" and her husband. "It's very hectic," she said, with energetic children now ages 12, 7 and 5 in the house.

Nana said she had been working when the children came to live with her and her husband.

"I had to quit my job," she said, and go on Social Security.

The children aren't demanding, but the work is pretty much all hers, since her husband has been diagnosed with cancer and has to take 18 pills a day. She takes seven, in large part because of her osteoarthritis and its complications.

But even with hers and her husband's Social Security and the survivor benefits the children receive, it's very difficult to provide for a family of five financially.

She had to get a reverse mortgage on her home and she worries she won't be able to pay the real estate taxes due next month. She said: "It's one thing after another."

Her oldest grandson struggles with reading, she said, "but the schools are great." They provide extra help for him. The younger children are both doing well in school and don't seem to need extra help.

From month to month, she said: "We manage." But there is nothing extra for Christmas presents and for special food treats.

So the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army will make a significant difference for this family at Christmas.

"We went overboard the first Christmas after the children's parents died," she said, giving the oldest boy an Xbox; now her youngest grandchild is asking for one of his own this Christmas. Her granddaughter would like an American Girl doll.

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 www.unionleader.com/santafund.

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.

How to donate

Santa Fund donations can be made by completing the online form by clicking "Donate" below or send a check to:

c/o New Hampshire Union Leader
P.O. Box 9555
Manchester, NH 03108

You can also drop off the printed form in our newspaper and a donation in the Santa Fund box at the Union Leader, 100 William Loeb Drive in Manchester from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. We will also have a donation drop box at the Intown Manchester Holiday Market on Thursday, November 29 and every Thursday in December.

Share a holiday greeting

With your donation, the Union Leader will publish a short holiday message in the newspaper. Just write it up exactly as you would have it appear, printing clearly, and mail it along with your donation. If you prefer to donate online, follow the link on the page following the transaction to submit a Christmas message.

For more information, please contact Shannon Sullivan, Union Leader Community Relations Manager, at (603) 206-7833 or ssullivan@unionleader.com

The Union Leader Santa Fund is a community tradition that has supported the Salvation Army for more than 50 years. The Santa Fund was first established at the Post Office Fruit in Manchester after a chance 1959 meeting between the Salvation Army major and the then-editor of the Union Leader.

In its first year, the Santa Fund brought in $1,000 to support the Salvation Armys Christmas effort. Since then, the Santa Fund has raised nearly $6.8 million, thanks to the generosity of the community and local businesses. Santa Fund dollars continue to provide warm clothing, meals and toys during the holidays, as well as support Kids Caf, summer camps and other critical programs throughout the year. Last year's drive brought in over $240,000 thanks to the generosity of local businesses and residents, bringing the lifetime total to nearly $6.8 million.

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