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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mother seeks gift card, books, or sports paraphernalia for disabled son

NASHUA – Donna Sutherland may not have much money, but she considers herself “a giver.”

When she visits the local food pantry to collect a box, she gives rides to others laden with bags and makes sure to offer them a “God bless you.” ...

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NASHUA – Donna Sutherland may not have much money, but she considers herself “a giver.”

When she visits the local food pantry to collect a box, she gives rides to others laden with bags and makes sure to offer them a “God bless you.”

Meanwhile, Sutherland – a widowed mother who herself has bipolar disorder – is familiar with personal struggle.

“I’m humiliated for myself that I haven’t been able to rise above my mental illness to stay stable enough to be a working full-time mom,” said Sutherland, 53, who has applied for The Santa Fund this holiday season. “I am more humbled than humiliated. And I am very appreciative that it’s there.”

Sutherland lives in Nashua with her 17-year-old mentally disabled son, Collin Adams. She said Collin has the cognitive ability of a 10-year-old.

Between her son’s needs and her own diagnosis, Sutherland – a former registered nurse – hasn’t been working for 13 years. Financially, she receives a widow’s benefit, disability checks and a supplemental check for disabled people with dependents.

Still, her finances are extremely tight. Collin, a sophomore at St. Ann’s School and Home in Methuen, Mass., is a music buff who takes guitar lessons, a luxury Sutherland scrimps to make happen.

“Music is his life,” Sutherland said. “He loves every genre. He could tell you any classical composer … he loves Elvis, the Beatles, Sinatra, the Supremes.” She bets Collin could jump in to play for any band, “and no one would have to change the beat of their feet.”

Sutherland said she applied to the Santa Fund through the Front Door Agency because it is “well-known for helping people that are homeless, that are going through bankruptcies and financial difficulties.”

Collin would like a gift card to Barnes & Noble or any books on the history of musicians, or paraphernalia from any New England sports team, according to his mother.

Sutherland said when she travels to pick up Collin’s gifts later this month, she will go with something special of her own.

“I already have a thank you card personally written to the family, describing my son to them to thank them from the bottom of my heart,” Sutherland said, adding that in her note, she also wishes the giving family “a year of good health and good fortune.”

The Santa Fund was started by The Telegraph in 1962 to help struggling families get through the holiday.

For more than a decade, the Salvation Army and The Front Door Agency (formerly Nashua Pastoral Care Center) have been helping the paper register families and distribute gifts.

To find out more about the Santa Fund, go to www.nashuatelegraph.com/santa
fund.