HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's the most wonderful time of year, but for those less fortunate it can be the most stressful.

The Western Mass News Surprise Squad aimed to relieve some of that stress for a single dad who's faced a lot of loss.

Mark St. John is described as a comical, sensitive, single dad who's taking care of his two sons, 16-year-old Zachary and 5-year-old Nathanael.

"He struggles with taking care of the two boys, managing his bills, where he lives, getting things done, getting around because he's disabled he walks with a cane," said Anissa Hart.

After a difficult year for his family, his sister Anissa nominated him for the Surprise Squad.

In September of 2016, Mark's wife Beatrice, who he affectionately calls Bea, died from injuries sustained in a car crash on I-291.

"It was a nightmare," said Mark St. John.

Now, he struggles to pay bills and provide for Christmas.

"My 15-year-old drives his bike around the neighborhood, collects bottles so he can put gas in the truck," said St. John.

All while trying to adjust to being a single parent.

"I know what my son wants but he can't have is his mother back," St. John added.

"He's having a hard time making it through the holidays," said Anissa.

The Surprise Squad headed off to the Holyoke Mall with Mark's mother and oldest son, Mike to treat them to anything they wanted for Christmas.

First grab was an XBox for Zach, who sold his to help pay the bills, and plenty of goodies for Nate.

Money for gifts isn't the only issue, Mark told Western Mass News he also needs two front tires for his truck, so City Tire decided to step in and give him four brand new tires.

"When I read this nomination of Mark I just thought it was in the spirit of the Surprise Squad and this time of year of giving is the right thing to do," said City Tire President Peter Greenberg.

"It just makes my heart happy that there's people looking out for other people," said St. John.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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