The 57th annual Boston Globe Santa Fund Drive gets underway today with its traditional mission to raise enough money to make sure thousands of children in needy families in some 158 eastern Massachusetts cities and towns will have gifts to open on Christmas morning.
Like last year, the drive is getting underway with the country still facing the problems from one of the most severe economic downturns in the nation’s history — a situation that continues to leave many parents unemployed and their families often without adequate housing.
Many of the 121 certified charity organizations that process the applications from families seeking assistance from Globe Santa in providing gifts for their children have already received hundreds of requests for his help.
The flood of requests this year was such that the Globe Santa staff that processes the applications had to start work about two weeks ahead of the normal starting date. And even though the deadline has passed for families to seek Globe Santa’s help, the staff’s work will continue right until Christmas Day.
Because of the flood of requests for gifts, Globe Santa is hoping that this Christmas season many new people and new companies and organizations will join the thousands of longtime contributors in helping to raise money in excess of the 2011 drive total of $1,254,078.14.
Over the last 56 years, thanks to the generosity millions of people, Globe Santa has raised $41,254,094 and provided gifts for 2,707,766 children. The number of toys, games and books that have been distributed during that time is 13,563,600.
All of the funds contributed to the Globe Santa Fund go toward the purchase of the gifts.
The Boston Globe Foundation providing the funding for the administrative costs of the campaign and the distribution of the gifts, which last year was again carried out by the men and women of the United States Postal Service.
Even though the fund drive is just getting started, the task of organizing the campaign and purchasing the gifts has been underway for several months.
The actual purchasing of the toys and other gifts is carried out at the spring and summer toy and gifts shows.
The gift boxes are prepared with age and gender in mind and are assembled at the Globe Direct facility in Millbury.
Then in the early fall other Globe Santa staff members start organizing and scheduling the many fund-raising events that will be held during the next several weeks.
This weekend, Globe Santa and his sleigh will be at Copley Place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m on Friday.
They will be at Paul Wahlberg’s restaurant, Alma Nove, at the Hingham Shipyard from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Notices and dates on other Santa activities during the entire Christmas season will be published in the Globe and on BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com.