An age-old, but forgotten, Charlestown tradition will be returning for the holidays this year, and it’s likely to brighten the faces of several homebound elderly and veterans.
A conglomeration of volunteers from the Bunker Hill Associations, the Golden Age Senior Center, 100 Ferrin St., Mayor Martin Walsh, the Age Strong Commission, Crystal Galvin at the Kennedy Center and Tiara Murphy at Boston Housing are uniting to bring back Townie Santa for the season.
“We’re bringing back Townie Santa this year for the holidays,” said Kim Mahoney, of the Bunker Hill Associates and the Warren Tavern. “Charlestown shines when we do things like this It’s the way the community comes together – everyone rolling up their sleeves and working for the same goal. That’s the fabric of the community.”
Townie Santa was a staple of the holidays in the 1980s and 1990s when the Conway family, former Charlestown Patriot newspaper owners, would organize a massive effort to deliver a hot meal and goodie bag to elderly home-bound seniors in the Town. As time went on, and people moved on, the effort fizzled out and seniors have not benefitted from the program for years.
Mahoney and Golden Age Director Meghan Murray said they believe it is just the right time to bring it all back, and to add homebound veterans to the effort.
“At the Associates, we have our grant process, but we wanted to do more,” said Mahoney. “We were talking and agreed that the seniors in the town don’t get much attention beyond the great work that Meghan and Paul Sullivan and others do for them every day. We decided we should bring back Townie Santa and gather other supporters to make it a community-wide effort.”
Murray said they are compiling a list of homebound seniors and veterans (meaning those that can leave home for a doctor’s appointment, but not much else), and they will have a hot meal delivered to them along with a bag of necessities for around the house.
On Dec. 22, Mahoney and Murray said they hope to use the Knights of Columbus to set up and cook the meals – boxing them with the goodie bags for volunteers to distribute throughout the community.
The Charlestown Mothers Association (CMA) has stepped up with a significant donation, and will be having a glove, hat and mitten drive to stock up the goodie bags.
More donations and volunteers are critical at this point, said Mahoney – who added that RSM in City Square has recently pledged support. She said she hopes more businesses around the Town will follow suit, and expects that they will. However, with Thanksgiving coming soon, the time is now to get involved.
A second piece of Townie Santa will be for all seniors, and will include a Holiday Party Luncheon at the Charlestown Knights of Columbus on Dec. 13 – all sponsored by the Flatley Companies.
Donations to the effort can be made to the Bunker Hill Associates, and can be dropped off at the Warren Tavern or the Golden Age Center (Main Street). Look for more drop off locations in the coming weeks.
“We’re certainly not at the point where we can replicate this year what the Conways did in the past, but we’re taking small steps and next year we believe we can say we’re bringing back exactly what the Conways had with Townie Santa,” she said. “This is just the beginning and we just started working on it.”