The randomness of hardship and bad luck

Another mother writes: “I’ve never used Globe Santa before because I was a little embarrassed. I’m not gonna lie. I’m really having a hard time.”

“I’m sure you’ve heard the single moms reason time and time again, but it’s a really good reason,” a third mom writes despondently. Her husband was deported years ago. “I can not do it alone.”

It is very difficult to ask for help. Many letter writers express sadness, regret and even shame. But every year, thousands of parents, grandparents, even siblings — in financial distress — overcome their hesitation and turn to Globe Santa to request gift help for children who would otherwise be without gifts. Sometimes they tell heartbreaking stories that are deeply personal and not easy to share.

A grandmother with throat cancer who just had her voice box removed is now looking after her 11-year-old grandson. “He has overcome all his demons caused by a bad situation because of his mother,” she tells Globe Santa. “I could use help in every possible way.”

Another woman lost her daughter to cancer a year ago and is now raising her 10-year-old granddaughter. “It has been a difficult and sad year for both of us,” she wrote. “We are both trying to become one with life. I do my best to keep her happy.”

A young boy writes on behalf of his three younger siblings, ages 2, 7 and 10. “I need help with my family,” the letter reads. “My grandfather, my father and my mother [are] always at work and by the time they get home they are exhausted and too tired to check on us… My father is always at work. He [is a] cook and he will be sweaty. The kitchen is the warmest place. I hope this helps you understand why we need help.”

There is no “usual” type of story in the Globe Santa mailbox. These letters convey the arbitrariness of hard times, tragedy or bad luck. There are stories of new Americans doing their best to be good citizens, of people impoverished by the COVID-10 pandemic, of people whose formerly comfortable lives have been derailed by disease or by a cruel waterfall of disaster.

“This past year has been nothing short of devastating for our family,” writes a mother of two girls, ages 6 and 11. My children’s father suffered a massive stroke 11 months ago when he was only 31 years old. This has touched us in every way. Making him permanently out of work with a brain injury, partially paralyzed and [with] heart condition. We have two children who have special needs. With all the care they need, it’s very hard for me to work. We are struggling now more than ever.”

A common theme in these letters is a deep love for their children and heartfelt gratitude to Globe Santa.

“Thank you for inviting us to this program,” wrote the woman whose husband had suffered a stroke, “and may God bless all who make it possible.”

Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, has been providing toys, books and games to needy children for 66 years. Last year, the program helped more than 17,000 children in 190 cities and towns in Greater Boston. Please consider giving by phone, post or online at

Eat and Shop to Benefit Globe Santa: On Monday, December 6, Eataly Boston at 800 Boylston St. will donate 10 percent of all market and restaurant sales to Globe Santa. Visit from 9am to 10pm, eat at their restaurants and do your Christmas shopping and help raise money for children in need.

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