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December tax bill will leave struggling couple no money, food

| November 26, 2010 8:00 PM

They are both disabled and have been struggling financially for years, but this is the first time this couple has asked for help from Press Christmas for All.

"There are so many people who have it hard, who have kids. I always thought they have a harder time than we do," the woman said.

The pair's only source of income is her husband's small veterans disability pension that doesn't go very far each month. Now blind, he has been unable to work at all for a few years.

"Because it is such a hardship just to get by, we haven't had any kind of 'Christmas' since 2006," she wrote on her application for help from Press Christmas for All.

The woman's voice brightened when she learned they might be able to use their gift card from the holiday charity program to buy some food.

"We have to pay some property taxes in December, and everybody's went up," she said. "We were just talking about how we were going to do that and buy what we need. Right now I'm looking at absolutely no food money for December."

She recalled a short story, "Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor." Written by John Cheever, the piece was published in The New Yorker magazine on Dec. 24, 1949.

"I think that's true," the woman said. "It's really hard for us. There are a lot of people out there who have a hard time at Christmas. You can't sing the songs. You can't look at the commercials. It's everywhere you go."

She and her husband still celebrate the best they can with what they've got.

They do have a Christmas tree, sort of.

"We have a pretty little thing I got at the dollar store. We put a few little things up," she said.

They are used to struggling and making sacrifices, she said, and while it's never easy, they appreciate what they do have.

"You celebrate the small successes, the things that brighten your life, but we worry about the future because there is no security in it for us," she said.

One of the couple's greatest joys is their daughter, a young woman attending college in a neighboring state and supporting herself by working for a large retail chain.

"She's always been an amazing student," the mom said.

But the proud parents won't be seeing their only child this holiday season.

"That happens a lot," the mom said. "We don't get to see each other much at this time of year."

The daughter can't afford to take time off from her job near the university she attends, and the parents don't have the funds to make the journey to where she is.

"We have an old car. It gets us back and forth, but it won't make a trip like that," the mother said.

Still, she said she and her husband are grateful to have the old vehicle.

"All you can do is have a little faith, and take it a day at a time," she said.

With our readers' assistance, Press Christmas for All works to brighten the holidays for folks like this - people left jobless, homeless or who are barely making ends meet, individuals with disabilities or illnesses. Many are alone this holiday season.

Last year our generous readers' donations allowed us to assist thousands of families in need, and this year we've been asked to help far more. We can't do it without you.

Each day until Christmas, we will share with you the stories of those whose holiday memories will be a little happier because of Press Christmas for All .

Donations are collected, then distributed in the form of gift cards to Kootenai County residents in need.

Press Christmas for All is a holiday charity now in its 25th year. It is managed as a nonprofit by The Hagadone Corp. Because it is run by volunteers from The Hagadone Corp. and their partners at Kootenai County Fire and Rescue, every penny raised is distributed in the form of gift cards to Fred Meyer and to Super 1 Food Stores. The cards can be used to buy food and gifts but not alcohol or tobacco products. All contributions are tax deductible.

To donate, please send a check to:

Press Christmas for All

201 Second St.

Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

You can also call (208) 664-8176 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and donate by credit card.

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