Some families ask for help for the first time

Some families ask for help for the first time


“Today I want to tell you the books [you brought] helped me a lot in my delay. I can speak several sentences.”

Members of the Bethesda Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (from left) vice grand John Weeks, noble grand James McKnight, president Dave Rupp, and vice president Ken Rupp presented Globe Santa executive director Bill Connolly (center) with a $35,000 donation. Josh Reynolds/The Boston Globe

To some of our letter-writers, Globe Santa is a familiar old friend. Practically a pen pal.

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“Dear Globe Santa: I want to tell you some news!” a letter begins breathlessly, written by a mother in the imagined voice of her 4-year-old. “Remember the last letter I sent you when I said I didn’t speak, that I had a delay in my speech because of autism? Today I want to tell you the books [you brought] helped me a lot in my delay. I can speak several sentences.”

“Another year, huh?” wrote another mother, picking up where she last left off. “I wonder if you guys save all these letters in each person’s file. I’d be curious to see my emotions throughout the years. As you may know, I’m not a big fan of the pressures of Christmas.”

But some families are first-timers, and reluctant first-timers at that. Three fathers wrote Globe Santa asking for help apologetically.

“Each year I have declined [writing] for help through Globe Santa, choosing instead to give up time with my family to try to work a bit extra to afford gifts, no matter how simple,” wrote a father of three boys, ages 5, 7, and 9.

“This year I am letting go of those shameful feelings that keep me from accepting help. It was not pride, it was shame. This year I am focusing instead on saving that Christmas money towards the future, and accepting help so that we can meet our goals without sacrificing a special time for our well-deserving boys.”

Another father who has never participated in the Globe Santa program wrote a lengthy explanation of why he decided to take this step. His unease and self-consciousness are palpable.

“This year our family suffered through many sad times and struggled to get by. I was involved in a head-on collision that has left me unable to provide for my family,” he wrote. “I struggle daily with chronic migraines, nausea, and dizziness which prevents me from being able to work. I usually help my wife shop for all of Santa’s gifts and it saddens me that I’m unable to this year. This is the reason for my request. [Being] unable to help during the holidays due to both financial and physical handicaps is very humbling.

A third father introduced himself as “not a person of much words.” But his short note to Globe Santa spoke volumes. He has three boys who are 1, 3, and 7.

“I’m sorry this is my first year I write, but I need help this year. We lost our home. I lost my job, all I have left is my faith in God and a little hope. We don’t ask for much but please send a little smile on my little kids’ [faces]; they are going through so much at such ages. I hope you can understand why we need help.”

Helping to keep the magic of the holidays alive by providing toys, books, and games to those in need is the reason Globe Santa exists.

Even if it’s hard to ask.

For 68 years Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, has provided gifts to children in need at holiday time. Pleae consider giving by phone, mail, or online at

Linda Matchan can be reached at [email protected]

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