'We do what we can to keep them happy'
MANCHESTER — Christopher and Hillary feel fortunate this Christmas season, even with a family budget stretched to its limit. (Santa Fund donor list, Page B1.)
They have a home and Christopher earns enough between two jobs to cover expenses for the couple and their four children, ages 12, 11, 7 and 6 months. But presents for Christmas are on the parents' wish list as well the kids' because the money isn't there to pay for gifts.
"It's really hard as a parent. You want to put a smile on their faces," said Hillary, who is thankful to know the family is getting help from the New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army. "This makes it so we can give them a little something."Hillary said it is especially hard this year because the oldest two children know times are tight and aren't expecting the latest electronic games or other popular items under the tree.
"They're smart kids. As much as we try and downplay it for the older ones, they understand," she said. "Even though they know what is going on, that's tough as a parent to hear them say that."
Because many of the kids' friends are in similar situations, the older two are getting into the holiday spirit by helping out, focusing on what they can give rather than receiving.
"They understand there are other people out there who are desperate," she said. "They're definitely interested in helping out a lot of other people."
Hillary said the family's 12-year-old daughter was moved a couple years ago when she saw a Salvation Army bell ringer collecting donations out in the cold. They have made it a family tradition since then to bring hot chocolate to every bell ringer they can as Christmas gets closer. The 7-year-old is still a wide-eyed boy counting the days until Santa arrives, hoping he brings a new set of Pokemon trading cards. His baby brother is currently teething and considers most anything he can get his hands on to be a present.
"All we have to do is keep him away from the tree so he doesn't try to eat it," she said.
Hillary is grateful for the Santa Fund program and the assurance that there will be at least something under the tree for the children.
"It put a smile on our face," she said. "We do what we can to keep them happy."
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.