Three children worry there will be no Christmas
That's what happened to Elizabeth and John, parents of three children, who are struggling just to keep a roof over their heads.
He was an unemployed construction worker last June when he underwent knee surgery, which has left him unable to return to the construction field. He's been hunting for work ever since.
Elizabeth also was unemployed but found a mail-sorting job in September. The family was finally able to have power restored this month to their East Side apartment after living without it since June.
"I loved it," Elizabeth said of the job. "There were good people and I had good hours, but I just can't get there."
About three weeks ago, her 2000 Pontiac Grand Am with 300,000 miles on it conked out on the highway. She hasn't been able to get to her Hooksett job since then.
Her employer said he'll hold the job for her until she can get another car. She's found a couple she could afford while she's working, but she needs $1,000 for the down payment.
Elizabeth contacted some nonprofit agencies who help find cars for needy families but she did not qualify, she said, because the family doesn't receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
"It's getting really stressful," she said. The couple is arguing more - over money, or the lack of it. "What can go wrong will go wrong."
She expects they'll be in the dark once again on Friday when a $100 payment is due on the electric bill. Given their problems, it's understandable their three children, ages 10, 9 and 5, don't think Santa will find them this year.
"My kids think we are not going to have a Christmas because we don't have a Christmas tree up," said Elizabeth.
Right now, their only income is about $100 a week in child support and $337 in food stamps.
As tough as things are and with Christmas fast approaching, Elizabeth is not about to give up or feel sorry for herself.
"There are people who are worse off than us," she said. "There are people who are living on the streets."
Elizabeth turned to the New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army so her children will see that Santa Claus has not forgotten them.
Her 10-year-old daughter would love a Monster High doll. Her 5-year-old daughter wants anything her older sister wants, but mom thinks an electronic educational game such as LeapFrog would be better for her kindergartner.
Her 9-year-old son loves LEGOs, especially the Star Wars sets, and is a wrestling fan. And, a replacement for an aging Xbox would be something the family would enjoy as a whole. While those things would be nice, any gifts at all will lift this family's spirits.
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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 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.