There’s one thing the Globe Santa campaign can always count on, says Bill Connolly, the program’s executive director. Every year, a new donor appears unexpectedly with an inspiring story to tell.
This year it was Jim Holzman, chief executive of Ace Ticket, the Boston-based broker that sells tickets to sports, concerts and theater events. Holzman said his business was demolished by the COVID-19 pandemic. For a year, all he did was refund money for canceled events. He lost 90 percent of his employees. His mother got COVID. His father-in-law died. The family dog died, too.
He was depressed for months. “Shuttering the business I spent 40 years of my life creating and building was totally crushing,” Holzman said. “It just felt like everything I ever worked for was gone.”
Eventually, he emerged from his misery and returned to his office in September 2020. And as sales began to return, he resolved to bump up Ace’s charitable giving. He decided to support a different Boston charity every month, selecting causes he felt a personal connection to. And during the holiday season he made the “easy decision” to support Globe Santa, contributing $1 from every ticket sale, through Dec. 31, to the Globe Santa campaign. He expects to donate more than $10,000 this year to Globe Santa.
Why Globe Santa? “I began to realize how much the Boston Globe has meant to me and how it impacted my work life,” he said. His first job was as a paperboy, which taught him how to work hard and be responsible. (He also got a kick out of seeing the news headlines before anyone else.) Later, he built up his business by advertising in the Globe. “I feel like I’m in a unique situation that I can do well and help others,” he said.
There are thousands of others who have made the decision to help Globe Santa, and the campaign is profoundly grateful.
“This has been a really difficult year for so many families who continue to be impacted by COVID, among other significant challenges, and it is wonderful to be able to give these children presents during the holiday season,” said Linda Henry, chief executive of Boston Globe Media Partners and chair of the Boston Globe Foundation, which sponsors Globe Santa.
“We’ve been inspired by how many community members have stepped forward to support the Globe Santa program,” Henry added. “This generosity has made it possible for us to deliver high-quality toys, games, and books for children in Massachusetts who might otherwise not have gifts to open. We’re deeply grateful to everyone who donated to support our neighbors, and to the hard-working Globe Santa staff who work tirelessly to bring these kids joy.”
Many community members help Globe Santa through partnerships and in-kind support, including Clear Channel Outdoor, Lamar Advertising Co., and the Boston Convention Exhibition Center, all of which donated outdoor billboard space. ArtsBoston donated promotional space at its Faneuil Hall BostTix booth. Globe Santa was promoted during the Mayor’s Tree Lighting on Boston Common, and Eataly Boston hosted its first-ever Globe Santa Day, donating 10 percent of sales to the campaign.
Other supporters include media sponsor NESN, New England Inns & Resorts, and Monster.com, which donated 500 kids’ hats and made its first monetary donation.
The Globe’s own marketing, creative, and social media teams have worked laboriously to increase the ways the Globe Santa mission reaches the public. They supported Globe Santa through all the Boston Globe Media channels, including the print paper, Globe Magazine, on Globe.com, Boston.com, in newsletters, and during our new “Black News Hour.”
Earlier this year, the Globe hosted virtual readings of children’s books during the Boston Book Festival to raise awareness about Globe Santa and created Globe Santa merchandise in the Boston Globe Store, where net proceeds benefit the campaign.
And of course, thousands of donors have ensured that the record-breaking pace of last year’s donations has been repeated in 2021. Fund-raising events returned this year as well. The Bethesda Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows presented Globe Santa with a $30,000 donation. The Salem Snowball Gala brought in $27,000. The Medford Kiwanis Club hosted a parade with the Medford Fire Department in honor of Globe Santa, which generated $5,000. Giggles Comedy Club brought back laughter through an event that raised $3,420. And Union Oyster House owner Joseph Milano donated $5,000.
But no less valued are smaller donations, many of which are in honor of loved ones, special causes, even family pets. And, in one instance, Vulcans.
Recently an $18 contribution came in from a man named Phil Heyman in Pennsylvania, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1963. He made the donation in honor of Leonard Nimoy, because he loves “Star Trek” and Nimoy was Jewish and lived in Boston. (Also, he said, because Nimoy said he based his Vulcan salute on the blessing given by the ancient Jewish priests.)
“In Judaism, charity is a big deal,” Heyman said in an interview.
“There are two key phrases the rabbis emphasize. Gemilut chasidim — deeds of righteousness — and tikkun olam, or restoring the world,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s what Globe Santa is about.”
For 66 years, Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, has provided gifts to children in need at holiday time. Please consider giving by phone, mail, or online at globesanta.org.
Linda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org