Children's friend is remembered; Donation made in name of `Mother Christmas'.

Byline: Ellie OlesonCOLUMN: TELEGRAM & GAZETTE SANTA

Retired Worcester District Fire Chief Joseph A. DiLiddo, 87, and
Angelina M. DiLiddo, 86, his wife of 65 years, donate to the Telegram
& Gazette Santa Fund each year in memory of their daughter, Madelyn
M. "Mother Christmas" Butkus, who died of breast cancer at age
55 six years ago, but is certainly not forgotten.

"We donate in her name as `Mother Christmas' because
Christmas was her day. She loved it so much," District Chief
DiLiddo said.

Mrs. Butkus especially enjoyed sharing the holidays with her
husband, Charles A. Butkus of Grafton, and their four children and 10
grandchildren. "Her world revolved around them," District
Chief DiLiddo said.

Mrs. Butkus worked with children as a social worker for the
Department of Social Services for 13 years, always keeping a
child's car seat in her car, just in case she had to take a little
boy from an abusive family or drive a small girl to visit her
incarcerated mother, District Chief DiLiddo said.

Despite seeing the most difficult side of life, she never lost her
faith or her sense of joy. "Madelyn went all out for Christmas. She
was a bubbly girl who lit up the room when she walked in. She loved
children. We donate in her memory because she would have wanted us to
remember children at Christmas," District Chief DiLiddo said.

His eldest daughter, Rosemarie "Mother Earth" Rodio of
Webster, also donates to the T&G in memory of Mrs. Butkus.

"Rosemarie is really into all the green stuff, so we call her`Mother Earth.' We just call our youngest, Arlene (D. Bragg ofGrafton), our baby."The DiLiddos have eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren,
"so we know how important Christmas is to children," District
Chief DiLiddo said.

He and his wife were introduced through mutual friends and married
in 1943, during World War II, while he was in the U.S. Army.

"I was in the service for four years. I served in the 10th
Armored Division with General Patton's 3rd Army. It was quite an
experience. We were at the Battle of the Bulge and all over, in eight
countries," he said.

He said that the Battle of the Bulge was horrific. "It was so
cold. There was a lot of snow. When the Air Force came in and dropped
supplies, it was a sight I'll never forget, all those parachutes:
white for medical supplies, green for food, another color for
artillery."

For many years after the war, District Chief DiLiddo carried a
piece of one green parachute as a kerchief.

On Christmas Eve in 1945, he came to Fort Devens from
Czechoslovakia; he was given a 10-day leave, having been in Europe for
18 months without a break.

"I came off that bus on Shrewsbury Street carrying my big
duffel bag. My wife was certainly happy to see me," District Chief
DiLiddo said.

After the war, he returned to work at Worcester Molded Plastics for
a few years and joined the Worcester Fire Department, first in the
reserves in 1949. Then he was appointed a full-time firefighter in 1953.
He was promoted to lieutenant, captain and finally district chief,
before retiring at the age of 65 in 1986.

"I was at the Winslow Street Station, then Providence Street,
then was district chief in the Central Division for 11 years," he
said.

He rarely goes to visit city fire stations any more, though when he
does, he said he is made welcome. "We are like a family. When I go
down there, it's to see my other family. I love both my families,
and we all love children," District Chief DiLiddo said.

In its 70th year, the T&G Santa Fund collects thousands of
donations from generous readers and area residents to help buy toys for
children in need in http://Madelyn-Marie.blogtur.com - Madelyn Marie - Central Massachusetts.

Children 12 and younger who would otherwise not receive any holiday
gifts are eligible to receive two toys each. When signing up at an area
agency, parents or guardians should bring personal identification for
each family member and proof of address and income.

No applications will be accepted directly by the T&G.

Area agencies accepting applications for assistance include the
Salvation Army, Catholic Charities Family and Children's Services
of Southbridge, Gardner Community Action Committee, WHEAT Community
Services and Winchendon Community Action Committee.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to the fund can do so by clipping
and filling out the form in the newspaper and mailing it to Telegram
& Gazette Santa Fund, c/o Commerce Bank, P.O. Box 15204, Worcester,
MA 01615-0204 or by going online to www.telegram.com/santa to donate by
credit card.

PREVIOUS BALANCE$73,414.82

CONTRIBUTIONS

The Water Lilies and Pads of the Greendale YMCA$875

Gerald F. Gallo$250

Peace on Earth & Merry Christmas; Hillcrest Ladies Golf
League$166

Matt, Sean, Ben, Zack and Kaitlyn Hicks of Sutton$125

Rachael, Julie, Renee, Emily, Matthew, Joshua, Analise, Meghann,
Alison, Tyler, Hunter and Parker$120

Egbe Omo Yoruba of Massachusetts$100

John W. Baldwin, Robert N. Baldwin and Dick Quaranta of Indusol
Inc., Sutton$100

Mary-Ellen, Celeste, Karen, Diana; Nancy - Those who love caring
for children$100

Robb and Julie Fraser's precious new life$100

All Grandmothers$50

Ellen & Andy$50

Kelley and Grindle$50

Natale & Caterina Pecorelli$50

Our Grandchildren: Delanie, Gage & Skyler$50

Santa's Helper$50

Santa's Helper$50

Santa's Helper$50

Elizabeth, Nicholas, David, Julie, Hannah, Morgan and Kyle$45

Santa's Helper$40

Santa's Helper$30

Santa's Helper$30

Figueras Family$25

"Our Dearly loved Fur Baby" Mitzy Moo Frykholm$25

Santa's Helper$25

Santa's Helper$25

Stanley & Patricia Quink$25

Kate & Emma M$10

Santa's Helper$10

Santa's Helper$5

IN MEMORY OF

David E. Cooper$100

Helme M. Salois$100

Our dad, Charles S. Gibbs; Brian, Chuck, Darrell & Jerome$100

Our Parents - Bill and Lucille Lewis, Tony Piscillo$100

Sergius & Marguerite Wentzell, Hazel & Clayton Russell$100

Precious Shining Star - Julie Pingeton; Family$75

Aunt Erlene, Uncle Ken, Gram & Gramp Richardson, Nana Strahan;
Janis$50

Bumpa and Grammie Hoglund; Love your children and grandchildren$50

Doris St. Pierre; The St. Pierre Family$50

Gene & Lillian Massey, Walter & Isabel Shugrue; Bob and
Elaine$50

George, Sid, Leo, Peggy, Duchess, Stormy I, Stormy II & Milo;
The 2 D's of Northboro$50

Gram; Love Scott, Debbie, Nathan, Nick and Nolan$50

Grampy Joe; Shauna, Kevin and Kyle$50

Hamish$50

John H. Scannell and Tracy E. Scannell$50

Kendall B. Payne and Anthony F. Ritacco$50

Marie Ciullo$50

Orrin and Agnes Mason; Cindy and Orrie$50

Our Dad, Louis G. DiPasquale$50

Papa John Coffey; Brandon, John and Anna$50

Philip & Helena Maloney and Dorthy Shaw$50

Russ, Sue and Roger Dean; Cindy and Orrie$50

Thomas F. Holland, III$50

Walter and John Rasku; Tina and Jeff Homewood$50

Carl Bryn; Aage Bryn$30

My Parents - Vincent C. & Louise F. Gill and Gremlin; Love
Janine$30

Adrien and Lena Mathews$25

Armond in Heaven; still grieving wife Diane$25

Chucky$25

George Durant; Sister$25

Gram, Poppy and other missed loved ones$25

Grampa Bud$25

Joseph Cecnickas, C. Paul Angelico; Mary Angelico$25

Joseph Noonan; Evelyn Noonan$25

Julia Aiello and Pat Santora; cousin Mary Angelico$25

Mary Ianiero; your sister and family$25

McLaughlin and Thomas Families$25

Michael Nowosacki; his Mom$25

Michael Woll; Gram LaBreck$25

"Our Dearly Beloved Fur Baby" Molly Marie Frykholm$25

Our Mom's - Katharina Perduta & Catherine McGurl; Bill and
Inge$25

"Our Precious Little Angel" Alec M. Johnson; Grandpa and
Grammie Johnson$25

Papa M. Papac and Nana; Matt and Kristina$25

Peter Carr and Ruth Norwood; Sonja Carr$25

Raymond Modig, Phyllis Wahlstrom and Bertha Larson$25

Teddy$25

William Salminen, Parents, Grandparents, Family and Friends$25

"Pa" Reilly$20

Clem Hultberg, David Cutting, M/M Wilbur Banfill Sr., M/M Alfred
Banfill, Baby Charlene, Wilbur Banfill Jr., M/M Richard Banfill, Ralph
Harris & Evelyn Reid$15

Grandma and Ebony$10

John and Marguerite McShera; all your family and friends$10

My cousin and my friend Jake Bachand; Brett Cahill$10

My kindergarten teacher Marlene Farley; Brett Cahill$10

"Our Never Forgotten Fur Babies" Alfie, Benji, Bridget,
Rusty and Duke$10

Richard J. Emmetts; Family$10

Don, my husband and best friend; With all my love Judy$5

The star on the dressing room door and the lady with the life
savers; Love Judy$5

TODAY'S TOTAL$4,796

GRAND TOTAL$78,210.82