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GLOBE SANTA

Loved ones lost, and honored with a gift to Globe Santa

For 67 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.

Many who reach out to Globe Santa for help in the holidays need help because of illness, or a death in the family — a day laborer felled by a heart attack, a mother in treatment for breast cancer, a family facing uncertainty and debt in the face of a parent’s diagnosis.

Loss, and its accompanying hardships: Those who themselves have lost loved ones understand it best. It may be why so many donations to Globe Santa are made to honor the memory of someone who mattered, who matters still.

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Diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in her 30s, Katie Crowell of Milton kept going. Cancer prevented her from working full time, so for the six and a half years she lived with metastatic breast cancer she devoted herself to being a mom, a volunteer, and a fund-raiser. In a few weeks it will have been a year since she died, only a few days before Christmas.

She asked that three donations be made in her memory: to cancer research, to the PTO of her children’s school, and to Globe Santa. All of which her husband, Mike Crowell, honored

“We always supported Globe Santa,” Crowell said. “It’s a Boston institution. It makes a difference to those it touches.” There was also a personal reason. “She always felt a connection,” he said, “Because of Tammy.”

Tammy McFarland, Globe Santa’s manager for family requests, was her aunt. “She always reached out to me during the season to ask if there was anything she could do to help Globe Santa,” McFarland said. “Children and Christmas were near and dear to Katie. She fought valiantly to be here one last Christmas.”

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Globe Santa would not be Globe Santa without its thousands of donors — 8,000 last year, who donated a total of $1.7 million so that children in need in Greater Boston would have toys, books, and games for the holidays.

Since the death of his mother, Jean Intoppa, three years ago, Lou Intoppa has run a donation drive in her memory. “In honor of my mom! I’m raising money for Globe Santa,” he posted on Facebook this year. “Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps.”

“My mom was always a big supporter of Globe Santa, even when we were young,” said Intoppa, who lives in Medford. “She always gave. When she passed away, we used Globe Santa as the charity to give to, instead of flowers.”

“It generated a couple of thousand dollars” and gave him an idea. He started the fund drive the following year. The response took him by surprise. The first year they raised $3,560, the second $5,075. He set the same goal this year, $5,000, and with 83 individual donations exceeded it again.

“I love Globe Santa,” he said, “I love what it represents, that it helps kids who otherwise won’t get gifts.” That many of those kids are in need because they have lost a parent is not lost on him.

“She was the best,” he said of his mother. His parents separated when he was 7, and he still marvels at what she did, “bringing up three kids — not on her own, my father was still in the picture — but it was my mom every day.”

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Her death in 2019 was instant, a heart attack. “We lost her suddenly, and it just destroyed us. I talked to her one night. The next morning I got the phone call, she was gone.”

“It was hard enough for us, and we’re all grown up,” he said. “For that to happen to a family, with young kids, it’s tragic.”

He has no plan to stop. “As long as people keep giving, I’m going to keep going.”


Ellen Bartlett can be reached at ellen.bartlett@globe.com.