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December 11. 2013 7:28PM

Economy tough on mom of 6


Six children, ranging in age from 3 to 18, no husband and a full-time job. One small apartment.

Sofia has her hands and life full, no doubt about it. (See Santa Fund list, Page B3.)

But this native of the Dominican Republic, who has been in the United States for about 20 years, and in Manchester for 15 of those years, is not complaining. Her eldest daughter, Emma, spoke to us because Sofia does not speak English.

Sofia, who is about 50, works — and works very hard — to provide for her children while being both mother and father.

Emma, who is about 30, lives separately and also works. She helps out her mother, three brothers and three sisters when she can.

"I have my own expenses," she says. "But what my mom needs comes before anything else."

Emma said her mother takes as many extra hours as she can get at the Manchester-area factory that employs her.

But the workflow is not always steady. Often during the year, Sophia has her hours cut.

Sophia's household income, between her wages and food stamp benefits, is barely more than $2,000 a month. Her expenses — rent, utilities, heat, car loan and car insurance payments — are close to that, leaving little for other basics, such as groceries.

Christmas gifts for the children, always difficult to buy in past years, have become nearly impossible to afford in 2013, Emma said, as the economy still struggles to recover.

Sophia this year applied for assistance from the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army for the first time.

"We try to make it as best we can," Emma said. "The kids know what's going on and that money is tight. We try to be open with them so they know that this year, it's kind of rough, and they're pretty understanding."

Emma said the younger children would love just about any toys.

"Whatever they see on TV, they want," she said. "They write it down and we get what we can get. Sure, it's a difficult situation, but it is what it is and you have to deal with it as it comes."


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 8 a.m. to 5 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.

Call Shannon Sullivan at 206-7833 for more information.

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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