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December 4, 2006

A deaf mother of 3 struggles with her family's rising costs

From: Boston Globe - United States - Dec 4, 2006

By Michael P. Naughton, Globe Santa Correspondent

The sounds of carolers singing Christmas songs, jingling bells, and Santa's unmistakable jolly laugh can be heard at almost every turn this time of year.

But they are not for everyone, as Globe Santa was recently reminded.

Teresa is a mother of three from the North Shore who is deaf.

Globe Santa received a letter from Teresa and her family's social worker describing their need and asking for help.

Teresa receives disability and struggles to meet her three children's needs. The high cost of food, utilities, and heating completely drains her resources, the social worker wrote, adding that because of Teresa's condition she is limited in her work skills.

Teresa's three children, who range in age from 6 to 12 years old, hear, and they communicate with their mother through sign language. Teresa's children are sometimes teased by their peers, who may not understand the family's unfortunate circumstances.

The social worker writes that Teresa's oldest daughter "tries to be a social sixth grader. She sometimes is shunned by classmates due to having old and dirty clothing."

In her letter to Globe Santa, Teresa explains that the family needs help to make sure her children wake up Christmas morning to find something waiting for them.

"I have three kids who wish to have Christmas presents. I can't afford a lot of presents for my children. I appreciate your helping out for them," she wrote.

As Globe Santa receives tens of thousands of requests for help this holiday season, it becomes too apparent that Teresa's family is not the only one trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

Cheryl is the mother of 5-month-old Gianna who has Down syndrome. Cheryl lives with her fiancée and 14-year-old daughter in a city north of Boston and makes frequent trips to the neonatal intensive care unit at the Floating Hospital for Children, where Gianna has been since her birth.

"She is such a fighter! She has several medical problems and has undergone four surgeries including heart, liver, and a G-tube feeding in her abdomen. She has an oral aversion and cannot take food by mouth at all," Cheryl wrote.

Because of the frequent trips to Boston, Cheryl has not returned to work as an elementary school substitute teacher.

"Traveling back and forth to Boston several times a week has been quite draining physically, emotionally, and financially. I am not able to return to work since caring for Gianna will be a full-time job. Making ends meet is only going to get harder with a new baby to care for," she wrote.

With the help of tens of thousands of contributors, Globe Santa will make sure Teresa's and Cheryl's children find toys under their trees this Christmas. But to make sure the more than 50,000 other children who will seek Globe Santa's help this Christmas are not forgotten, he needs your help.

All of the money donated to Globe Santa's fund goes directly toward buying toys for needy children throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Donations can be made online, by mail, or in person during one of Globe Santa's sleigh events across Greater Boston going on from now until Dec. 23.

© 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.