Out-of-work librarian would rather be donating
MANCHESTER - Sarah would much rather be a donor than an applicant to this year's New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army.
"I wish it were the other way around," she said, "and I was the one donating and not the one hoping to be donated to."
This is the first year she has had to ask for help to ensure that her two daughters and one son, ranging in age from eight weeks to 5 years old, have a Christmas to remember.
Sarah (not her real name) has been working since she was 15, when she started as a page at the Manchester City Library, shelving books and running errands. A graduate of Manchester Memorial High School, she learned as much as she could about library science on the job and worked her way up from page, to library assistant, staffing the clerk's desk and interlibrary loan office.
Eventually, she ended up as library assistant at a small library for a nursing school in Salem until it went out of business in 2010.
Unable to find another library job, she did the best she could with what she called "odds and ends, here and there." Retail jobs were available, but working long hours at night and on weekends just meant most of her earnings were spent on day care.
Last year, she eked out a Christmas with some help from relatives. "It was a bit scary," she said. "But fortunately, they were young enough to appreciate what they did get. They are young enough that they don't know the difference between toys and necessities. My grandparents had sent a little bit of money, so I could do something for them."
This year, her older daughter started kindergarten at Weston Elementary School and came home with information about the Santa Fund application process. "I said, 'That sounds like a great program. I had read about it before in the newspaper, but never knew where to go to apply."
She's among the hundreds of Santa Fund applicants hoping the generosity of New Hampshire Union Leader readers will qualify her for some holiday assistance, however small.
"My 5-year-old loves to read, so I would purchase some books for her," she said. "She's very much into practicing her sight words and things like that. She loves to get information, so I probably would try to do something like get a cheapo kid's laptop - anything of an educational value, she loves."
Her 2-year-old daughter is also drawn to toys that stimulate the imagination and learning skills. She loves the Backyardigans - an animated musical-adventure series on Nickelodian in which five preschool friends rely on their imaginations to transform their backyard and embark on epic journeys. "It has educational value to it," Sarah said.
The baby brother is in line for some new clothes and maybe "a few playthings he could use on the floor," said Sarah, who also hopes to be able to decorate a tree and put a holiday dinner on the table for her small family.
With a little luck, Sarah said she hopes to further her education in library science, get back into the field, and next year become a Santa Fund donor. "I've heard that some of the best donors are those who were recipients in the past," she said.
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..