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Parents of young children coping with illness, poverty

| Saturday, Dec. 1, 2001

A 2-year-old girl from the New Alexandria area will probably never get to know her father's real personality.

When she was just several months old, her father, who is in his 30s, suffered a stroke that left him disabled. It so debilitated him that he will never be able to work again.

The family now receives a mere $500 a month to live on. His wife stays home to care for the 2-year-old, who attends a Head Start program, and an older child who is in kindergarten.

The mother hopes to be able to work once both her children attend school full time.

New Alexandria Salvation Army Officer Patricia March said the family had been on public assistance, but lost those benefits.

"It's kind of a shame," she said. "Now there's a situation where public assistance should be available. There's someone who needs it who can't seem to get it."

March enrolled the family in Project Bundle Up and Treasures For Children. And they will enjoy a festive holiday dinner this year, thanks to Operation Santa Claus.

This year Operation Santa Claus will provide Christmas dinner to 6,700 families and stockings to 8,400 children. Recipients are from a five-county area served by 25 Salvation Army units.

Each grocery bag contains the fixings for a complete holiday meal, including a gift certificate valued at $10 for a meat item of the family's choice. Also on the menu: scalloped potatoes, stuffing, green beans, whole-kernel corn, fruit-flavored gelatin, fruit cocktail, applesauce, blueberry muffins, snack crackers, holiday cookies and hot cocoa. Each stocking contains an assortment of sweets and treats including crayons and activity books suitable for children ages 12 and younger.

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