A Timberlea, N.S., mother's bid to make Christmas a little better for her children has resulted in a nasty online backlash.

Debra Ralph took to the classified website Kijiji to appeal for gifts for her two sons.

"The only thing that I was looking for, and I wasn't expecting the response that I got, was just some clothes and a couple little things for them and maybe some stocking stuffers," Ralph said Friday.

Tragic Christmas Story

Under the title "Tragic Christmas Story," her Kijiji ad described how the boys’ father had died in an industrial accident while she was recovering from breast cancer.

"I finished my last surgery in April and their father died on May 9," Ralph said. "It was just one defeat after another."

Shaun McInnis plunged to his death in a construction accident six months ago. He was working in the Clayton Park neighbourhood of Halifax. The accident is still under investigation by the provincial labour department.

McInnis and Ralph were separated at the time of his death, but she says they remained close.

"He was an amazing father," Ralph said. "Couldn't ask for a better father."

"He was supposed to pick them up that Friday," Ralph added. "He died on the Thursday. Telling them their father died was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. "

Scam-artist accusation

Within hours of posting her ad, it received 5,600 hits. Ralph got 100 emails. Nearly half of them were negative.

"I did get a lot of negative response saying that it was a scam," Ralph said. "Obviously a lot of people scam at Christmas time. That's why I specifically posted I did not want cash, money. I just wanted a few gifts for the boys."

Disheartened by the emails, Ralph took down her ad. She works full-time as cleaner in a building in downtown Halifax. She did not approach CBC, but was contacted by a reporter. 

She said she didn't want people getting the wrong idea.

"I can't say that I couldn't buy them a couple of things. I definitely could," she said.

Ralph said she's already made a lot of compromises. 

"We've had our phones disconnected. I don't have cable. I don't have luxuries due to the fact that I have to put food on the table. My main concern is providing Christmas for them," Ralph said. "That's it  just one happy day."

With the backlash from her Kijiji posting, Ralph isn't sure what she'll do.

"We'll be together. And I'll make sure there's something for them."