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December 15. 2013 8:05PM

For family, Christmas is about love


MANCHESTER — Those who wake up Christmas morning to a whirlwind of excitement and presents capped off by a family feast couldn't fathom what Kimberly Martin's Christmas is like.

She holds the fort down on her own for her brood of four. There are no loving grandparents stopping by. No fragrant Christmas goose will come out of the oven. There won't even be presents for her 3-year-old twin boys or her daughters, ages 11 and 7.

But there will be love. And that is the miracle of Kimberly's Christmas.

"I try to teach them the true meaning of Christmas — to have your family and friends and your loved ones around," Kimberly said.

She and her family get up and watch a Christmas parade on television. They'll bake a batch of cookies. Then they will scrape together a feast pulled together from leftovers. Last year, it was macaroni and cheese and cube steak.

"We look through the cupboards. We put together a mishmash. ...We had fun. We are always laughing, and we all have smiles on our faces," she said.

Her holiday is a far cry from the Christmases Kimberly used to know when her father and grandmother were alive.

"My Christmas has always been about family," Kimberly said.

She keeps their spirits and memories alive by telling their stories to her children.

"I want to make sure my kids know what an amazing man he was," Kimberly said.

"I want to teach them the right way. I don't want them to think that Christmas is always about 'I want. I want. I want.' It's also about what you have and who you have," she said.

Kimberly would at least like her daughters to have a present or two Christmas morning.

"I just wish I could have a couple of things under the tree for them. But I can't do it. I don't have the money," explained Martin, who was laid off from her part-time cleaning job and is looking for work. That's why she reached out to the New Hampshire Union Leader Fund for the Salvation Army.

Her oldest daughter would love to have a board game like Scrabble, Guess Who? or Monopoly. Her younger daughter loves anything to do with arts and crafts — construction paper, beads, string, foam letters or anything she can draw on.

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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