A Great Night, a Big Start for Sun Santa

November 18, 2018

Volunteers from Lowell Catholic add to the spirit during Sun Santa's 30th anniversary celebration at Lowell Memorial Auditorium Tuesday night. From left are junior Joe Espinola of Dracut, senior Amanda Bursey of Tyngsboro, senior David Gill of Methuen, senior Karlee Calavritinos of Lowell, senior Patricia Adesanya of Lowell, and junior Ryan Young of Lowell.

LOWELL - Sun Santa is off to a big start after raising tens of thousands of dollars at a first-time celebration Tuesday to kick off the season and mark three decades of spreading holiday cheer.

The event at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium raised about $72,000, which will go toward helping families in need with food and gift vouchers for the holiday season. More than 160 came out in support that evening.

Sun Santa Coordinator Nancy Roberts said the event far exceeded her expectations.

“It was wonderful. The community came out in full force,” Roberts said. “We appreciate the sponsors joining us for their generous support of time and financial support. And our honorary co-chairs Philip Donahue and Daniel Donahue will be awesome ambassadors.”

She also thanked Community Teamwork Inc. and the Salvation Army for their support of Sun Santa.

“We really appreciate the community support and the funds go to families that are struggling for the Christmas holidays,” said Terry McCarthy, Lowell Sun Charities president. “It was a great event and everybody had a great time.”

Guests enjoyed live music, food and raffle prizes. Prizes included holiday shows at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, wines, restaurant gift cards, Boston Bruins tickets, Boston Celtics tickets and more.

“It was joyful and you could feel it in the air that people were happy. It was a lovely evening,” Roberts said. “Now, we’re ready to go to work for the campaign and help our neighbors.”

Lowell Catholic student volunteers helped during the celebration.

The Sun and Lowell Sun Charities have a proud history of serving the Greater Lowell community. Lowell Sun Charities was established in 1947 with a basic mission to support local charitable causes. Three decades ago, Lowell Sun Charities identified another need: Many local families were struggling to provide Christmas gifts for their children and put a holiday meal on their table. From that need, The Sun Santa Fund was founded, and is now celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Sun Santa provides assistance to local families in the 23 communities served by The Sun. The Salvation Army and Community Teamwork process applications and distribute gift and food vouchers to the families. Toy vouchers are redeemable at Rogers Toy in downtown Lowell and Kmart in Billerica. Food vouchers are accepted at Hannaford supermarkets in Dracut, Lowell and Chelmsford and all Market Basket stores.

The Sun Santa Fund -- through the generosity of the local community -- raises the funds to directly support this voucher system that provides families the means to experience a joyful holiday. Thanks to our major partner, Lowell General Hospital, local businesses, public officials, neighborhood social clubs, students and hundreds of individual donors, we have always met our goal. Every family who requests Sun Santa’s help receives it.

All donations help and are recorded by the newspaper. Brief messages are welcome.

Donation canisters, stickers and buttons are available for businesses that would like to help. Businesses donating $500 or more are welcome to submit a digital photo that will be printed in The Sun as space is available.

Teachers are encouraged to hold “penny drives” in their buildings or classrooms to involve children in Sun Santa.

Secure online donations can be made at www.lowellsun.com/sunsanta , or by mail to The Sun Santa Fund, 491 Dutton St. Lowell, MA 01854.

Mark your calendar for the following events to benefit The Sun Santa Fund ...

* Saturday, Nov. 24: The duo Zephyr (Sun Managing Editor Kris Pisarik and Paul Censullo) perform from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Athenian Corner, 207 Market St., Lowell, to raise money for Sun Santa.

Also, watch for Sun Santa’s elves from Lowell High School who will be passing out treats along the City of Lights parade starting at 4:30 p.m.

* The annual Lowell General Hospital theme-basket raffle begins on Tuesday, Nov. 27 with online sales.

Baskets will be on display at the main campus, 295 Varnum Ave., Clark Auditorium. Ticket sales dates and times are:

* Wednesday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

* Thursday, Dec. 6, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Friday, Dec. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Sunday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Monday, Dec. 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Tuesday, Dec. 11, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Wednesday, Dec. 12, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Winners will be drawn on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 3:30 p.m. in Clark Auditorium. The public is welcome.

* Friday, Nov. 30: Former state Sen. Steve Panagiotakos holds his annual Sun Santa Christmas Party at the Blue Shamrock, 155 Market St., Lowell. The party begins at 6 p.m. Bring an unwrapped toy for the It’s All About the Kids Foundation.

* Wednesday, Dec. 5: State Rep. David Nangle hosts a celebration at Lenzi’s, 810 Merrimack Ave., Dracut, from 6 to 9 p.m. Bring an unwrapped toy and/or a check for The Sun Santa Fund.

* Thursday, Dec. 6: State Rep. Jim Arciero hosts his annual Sun Santa/Toys for Tots fundraiser at the Franco American Club, 55 W. Prescott St., Westford. The event begins at 6 p.m.

* Saturday, Dec. 8: At the Knickerbocker Club, 36 Chamberlain St., Lowell. Sun Santa’s friends at the Patriot Dart League host their annual benefit fundraising event. Entry fees are $15 per person/per event. Payouts will depend on the number of entries in each event. Big-ticket raffle prizes include a TV, a pair of Bruins tickets, gift cards, scratch tickets and a computer tablet. Watch for a visit from Santa! Entry fees benefit The Sun Santa Fund.

* Sunday, Dec. 16: The Polish American Veterans of Lowell Inc. and Ladies Auxiliary present their annual Sun Santa Family Christmas Party at the Dom Polski Club, 10 Coburn St., Lowell. $5 requested donation (children under age 12 free).

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