Santa Fund donor photo -- Manchester Rotary Club

From left, Manchester Rotarians Jeanine Tousignant, Susan Manchester, Clara Monier, Christopher Blais, Tom Barrett and David Crespo gather for the Manchester Rotary Club’s annual donation to the Union Leader Santa Fund.

MANCHESTER — Home for the holidays is a popular refrain this time of year, but being homeless for the holidays is nothing to celebrate.

With rents soaring out of reach even for those with well-paying jobs, the prospect of spending Christmas Eve in the family car is a reality for many of those hoping for assistance from the Union Leader Santa Fund.

Pamela Morin, her husband, Kenneth, and their two children, a 6-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, struggle to make ends meet on Ken’s disability income. For a while the family was able to maintain an apartment in Manchester but has been homeless since being evicted in August.

“We lost it to eviction after the rent went up to $1,745 for a three-bedroom,” says Pamela, describing the family’s former home.

Since then she and her husband have slept most nights in their Jeep Cherokee, while the children stay with an adult daughter.

“Sometimes we go to a friend, sometimes to my daughter’s,” she said. “We try to go to someone’s place to get warm.”

With help from Families in Transition, the family of four hopes their homelessness is coming to an end, and that they could, indeed, have a home for the holidays.

“I know we’re going to be moving into a place soon, ... so gifts or food or anything would help,” Pamela said.

Families in Transition has also assisted Kalin Doster and her husband, Antonio, in finding temporary shelter.

“We were living out of our car and were saved when the state put us in touch with Families in Transition, and they found us a spot in a boarding house,” Kalin said.

For now the couple and their 7-year-old son are living at the Welcome Home boarding house in Manchester, where they pay $165 a week.

Antonio works for an industrial cleaning service and had been able to maintain an apartment until they could no longer keep up with the rent.

Life at the Welcome Home isn’t exactly what Kalin and her family would hope for, but they are making the best of the situation. Despite the shared bathrooms and lack of kitchen facilities, there is a sense of camaraderie in the building.

“At Thanksgiving, I did something very creative,” Kalin said. “We got a turkey from the Salvation Army and I cut it down, removed the legs and thighs, cooked them in a toaster oven and put the turkey breast in a crock pot.”

The result was a turkey soup to share with everyone in the building.

Families like the Morins and the Dosters are counting on the generosity of Santa Fund donors to help their children enjoy the trappings of the season, even as they struggle to put a roof over their heads.

Santa Fund donations can be made online at www.unionleader.com/santafund. It’s fast, easy and convenient.

Donations also may be made by sending a check to the Union Leader Santa Fund, c/o New Hampshire Union Leader, P.O. Box 9555, Manchester, NH, 03108. Or drop your donation in the Santa Fund box in the lobby of the newspaper at 100 William Loeb Drive, Manchester, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.