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Nursing degree is dream of mom caring for 2 kids

With just another year in school, "Iris" could qualify to take the test to become a licensed practical nurse, with higher pay and a work schedule that would allow her to meet her family responsibilities.

But with an autistic child needing around-the-clock care, a second child being evaluated for a form of autism and an estranged husband who contributes $50 a month in child support, it is a goal that remains outside of her grasp.

This year she's turning to the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army, (See list, Page B1.)

Iris said she's been battling for the past two years, since her husband's drug abuse and a cut in hours at work left the small family homeless.

"I cannot tell you how I always manage to make it work," Iris said. "It's God. I can't explain it,"

After years of dealing with her husband's drug use, Iris, which is not her real name, filed for divorce.

"Every time we go to court for child support, he has no job," Iris said.

Iris works part-time as a secretary with a local health-care provider. She cares for her severely autistic 5-year-old every afternoon.

The boy has a tactile disorder that makes feeding him a time-consuming chore. Another son has autism-related school adjustment problems.

"As a nurse, I will have more flexibility," Iris said. "I could make more in a shift than I do some weeks."

Work toward her nursing license is put aside as she works and cares for her family.

"I try to shield my kids from things," Iris said.

An empty Christmas would pierce that shield.

"They love toys," Iris said. "That would make them happy."

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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

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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