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December 18. 2012 10:28PM

Mom keeps working hard, but expenses are overwhelming

MANCHESTER - Helen said she works, but it's only part time and since she and her husband split, she's bearing all the costs of supporting a family of five.

"Every penny I make goes to make the rent each month," she said, and even that isn't enough, so she owes nearly two months of back rent and also has a back bill from the electric company. (See list, Page B1)

Helen also is trying to pay off a $3,000 medical bill at $15 a month. She has health issues and is on medication. "I got really, really sick," she said, before her medical condition was identified and treated.

She said her husband just got laid off, but he wasn't providing any financial support even before that. She said he wants to reconcile, but she doesn't. In addition to issues of drinking and drugging, she said: "He's very controlling."

But Helen is optimistic about the future. "I had to go to the state," she said, and that opened up possibilities. "It's awesome. They're going to help me go to school," she said. When school starts in January, she will be studying sociology.

But that's the future and Christmas is now, so that's why she has turned to the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army. There will be age-appropriate presents for each child and a grocery store gift card to buy the ingredients needed to make special treats, as well as purchasing basics. That will be a treat since she now has to be very practical with her food stamps.

Fortunately, her children aren't asking for the moon. One of them would like a Polly Pocket, she said, but they will be happy with whatever they get from the Salvation Army Toy Shop.

"I have my bad times," said Helen, but at least Christmas will be a happy day with the help of the Santa Fund. And maybe in the not too distant future, she will be in a position to help others by making a donation however small to the Santa Fund, helping other families.

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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.

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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