Desperate families in New Brunswick are turning to online personal ad sites like Kijiji.ca to make pleas for help as Christmas draws near.
Tony Wetmore, of Rothesay, reluctantly posted a Christmas greeting that rings of despair after the truck he used to do odd jobs broke down, was sold for cheap and left him without a truck — and without a business to support his family.
"I know in my heart that I don't deserve anything for Christmas, seeing that it was me that put us all where we are today," said Wetmore in his post. "But my family does deserve a good Christmas.
"Would there be anyone out there at all that would like to help out with making it a good Christmas for my family?"
In an interview, Wetmore told CBC News he didn't see any other way to give his children a Christmas.
"I just know that the kids need a good Christmas," he said. "And I just didn't think there was going to be any way to do it for them.
"I know every day, it's getting a bit worse. I'm selling stuff. More every day."
Melissa Scribner has also turned to Kijiji to place a Christmas ad on behalf of a mother who needs winter clothes for her children.
Scribner thinks going to the food bank and other charity groups, is just too difficult for some.
"I know there's people out there who are like, 'Nope, I don't need that. I'm too good for that,'" said Scribner. "And yet they're struggling and they have nothing."
A long-time volunteer at a Saint John food bank says demand for assistance outstrips supply.
Harry Cross thinks sites like Kijiji might be the way for people to reach a new audience of donors.
"People might hear their personal story and be touched by it and donate to them personally," said Cross. "So then they wouldn't have to go through an organization that already exists."
Skeptics question tales of woe
However, tales such as these also bring out skeptics online.
One person has posted a notice on the Moncton Kijiji site entitled "Christmas Sob Stories . . . Tis the Season Folks."
"I have personally been scammed a few times trying to help these unfortunate souls with their unbelievably bad luck and found out later that they do this every year!" states that notice.
"I apologize to the few people who are genuine, but if you need help, go to the Salvation Army and they will do what they can for you."
Wetmore says that's not what he is up to.
"I know there will be people on here that will give me a hard time for putting this on here," he wrote in his plea for help. "But this is not for me … It is for them. I already feel bad enough for doing this to my family."