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Dad turned life around, but struggles remain, especially in Christmas season for the kids

MANCHESTER - In high school, "Albert" made a lot of bad choices. He started using drugs and hung out with people who made his problems worse.

He dropped out of high school and seemed to be going nowhere.

Then the first of his two daughters was born.

"The kids were a big life-changer for me," he said.

Albert is now clean and sober. He obtained his general equivalency diploma and is now a full-time student at Manchester Community College, where he's working toward a degree in construction technology and a career in property management or building inspection.

"They're the only things that matter to me, so I went back to school to give them a better life," he said of his girls, who want a Christmas that he said he just can't provide.

Albert has applied to the New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army, hoping the charity will give his daughters something nice to cheer up their Christmas.

His kids want what a lot of kids want for Christmas. The 10-year-old wants a mountain bike. The 4-year-old wants the LeapPad touch-screen learning game.

While he's in school, only his girlfriend's modest part-time work serves as steady income for the family of four. His application to the Santa Fund lists $800 in monthly income and more than $2,200 in monthly expenses for rent, utilities and food.

He tries to help by working temporary or part-time jobs to bring in extra money, but it won't be enough until he can finish school and find full-time work, he said.

"We're really tight on money," he said. "We go from shut-off notice to shut-off notice. We'll let some things go one month to pay other things."

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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 ?nancially 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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