“Where did the magic of Christmas go?” It is with this disillusioned question that begins the article of franceinfo devoted to Christelle Mainguy, published on December 10. As the end of year celebrations approach, this inhabitant of Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique) “distressed” at the thought of not being able to give gifts to her children aged 6, 14 and 17. A job loss linked to the Covid-19 crisis has worsened the financial difficulties of this 45-year-old single mother. The unpaid rent and electricity have accumulated, the meals have become less frequent.
>> “For Christmas, my teenagers dare not ask for anything”: Christelle, single mother, tells about the financial anxiety of the holidays
By speaking, she hoped to raise awareness of “the galley of women and men who take care of their kids on their own”. But she had no idea of the emotion that her story would arouse, consulted more than 250,000 times in two days on the franceinfo site. After a wave of hostile comments in the discussion space under Christelle’s testimony, a surge of solidarity will take shape.
This December 10, at midday, a notification from the franceinfo application made Thibault Delhez’s phone vibrate. This 36-year-old entrepreneur discovers the story of the mother in difficulty. “A slap in the face”, he assures. He sees himself again, as a kid, in Nice, after his parents’ divorce. “My mother found herself with my brother and me, in debt and threatened by the bailiffs. She was in the same situation as Christelle, except that she was able to count on my grandmother. Grandma paid for the holidays, the school, shopping. It is thanks to this help that my mother was able to bounce back. “
Decided to provide, in turn, external help, this father of two children aged 6 and 9 manages to contact Christelle on social networks. With his consent, he launches an online jackpot. “We know that these situations exist, but we forget them. We trace our route, our children will have gifts at Christmas, and even too many”, he writes, on Facebook, to encourage his 5,000 subscribers to contribute. In less than two weeks, the entrepreneur collects more than 1,500 euros, donated in waves to this stranger who lives 1,000 km from his home.
“With a small donation, we will neither be richer nor poorer, but we will have done a lot for Christelle.”Thibault Delhez, fundraiser for Christelle Mainguy
By this action, the entrepreneur hopes “make Christelle and her children smile” and help them “go forward”. One of his friends, a lawyer, has already offered to“study the files” of this divorced mother. She hopes in particular to recover half of the house she owned with her ex-husband. “When they grow up, her children will be able to remember all this history and perhaps decide to help someone in turn”, imagine the Niçois.
Just as touched by her story, dozens of readers began to contact Christelle. Some go through Facebook or LinkedIn, others find their email address in the comments of the article. Some also ask the author of the article and the televisions service of France Télévisions, to be put in touch with her.
“I will almost have to take a secretary”, jokes Christelle, touched by “this impressive surge of solidarity”. In their messages, Internet users greet the “courage” of this “beating”, which connects the employment contracts without managing to make ends meet. “Every day, people encourage me, she emphasizes. Having people behind me makes my heart pound. “
Among these supporters, about fifty readers wanted to send him gifts for his children. For the past few days, the postman has been passing through every morning. “My children’s Christmas is going to be more than beautiful”, she rejoices.
“The ‘Thank you Santa Claus’ pronounced by my louloute who discovers his gifts, I will have it, that’s for sure!”Christelle Mainguy
Donors sent her the small toys requested by her 6-year-old daughter in her letter to Santa Claus. Another, a graphic designer, sent his 14-year-old son a brand new computer, after reading that the teenager dreamed of a PC to become a graphic designer. “‘I can’t leave a kid like this without helping him,’ he said to me.
The money received will also allow the family to wake up. “I will be able to please my children, with their favorite breaded fish, duchess potatoes, a small log and even a little foie gras, she salivates. They love it, but haven’t had it in a long time. I will light candles, I will make hot chocolate with marshmallows in it. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it wouldn’t have been possible for me, besides the freebies. “
“Without this help, we would have done with the means at hand: toast sandwich bread, butter, ham, olives, crisps, and basta.”Christelle Mainguy
This sales person at the end of the contract, who hopes to convert to a telephone advisor in January, will use part of the donations to pay off certain debts. “I will also be able to pay my children for the bus, finally, without forcing them to cheat”, she confides, sobs in her voice.
How far will this generosity go? “I dare not say no to people, for fear of offending them, Christelle slips. I decided to take it all and share it with others in my situation. “ Last week, the 40-year-old undertook to offer her help to the families who testified in another franceinfo article on the financial puzzle of Christmas. Some accepted this outstretched hand, others politely refused it, out of modesty or pride.
“Sure, I have lots of overdue bills, but I can’t keep them all without helping out.”Christelle Mainguy
And after ? Donors will be entitled to an elevator return. Christelle and her children have planned to send them a very personal thank-you message on December 25 – we give them the scoop. “We won’t stop there, she adds. We will send news from the family from time to time and we will continue to exchange. More than their donations, it was their words that boosted me. Thanks to this story, I no longer sink, I go back up. “