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December 07. 2012 7:48PM

Too many bills, too little income


MANCHESTER - Brenda Ames said she and her family are not choosy people. They like simple things.

That said, when it comes to providing Christmas for her two grandchildren, she can't even offer the small things kids long for, like hair and makeup products for an 11-year-old cheerleader, and Lego and comic books for her 9-year-old grandson.

"I can't afford it," said Ames, whose custody of the children five years ago coincided with a heart attack that left her having to take expensive medication. "I've just got bills like crazy right now."

Ames works in customer service at a retail store, but her $1,646 in monthly income doesn't come close to paying the $2,539 in monthly expenses for the basics, such as housing, food, utilities and clothes.

She puts many bills on a credit card and "some bills just go unpaid," she said. "I stretch everything."

Ames said she applied to the New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army to see if she could provide a better Christmas for her two grandchildren.

"It's just so they could get something good," she said. "I don't like to ask for help, but I have to do it.

"It's so tight in the house right now," she said.

She said the kids just want a few little things to call their own.

"We're not picky people," she said. "They don't want something expensive; just something they can appreciate."


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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