Forty years ago, a new town tradition was born thanks to a handful of supporters who felt that since the true meaning of Christmas is giving back to others who might be in need of some joyful reminder that they are not forgotten and that Charlestown always sticks together and helps each other.
Many folks made Townie Santa what it has begun today. One of those community people was Gloriia Conway who along with her husband Jim published the weekly Charlestown Patriot back before the internet when newspapers were still king. There were many others too like Cookie Giordano, Arthue Crotty and so many more. I was there in the basement of the Mary Colbert Apartments in the old Harvard School packing lots of items into a large Moses basket. After we left with the baskets, we headed up Bunker Hill Street to the Scalli home where Bob and his family were preparing the meals for each basket. Still remember going inside and the place looked like a restaurant kitchen. This was afterall a team effort and the team was Charlestown.
The very first Town Santa deliveries began early on the morning of December 24. A hardy bunch of volunteers showed up and I recollect 80 or so baskets were handed out that very first morning when Townie Santa was conceived.
I was one of the young guys back then and I looked around at all those who came to help. Folksfrom all ages were there to pitch in. I can still remember the look on people’s faces when I showed up at their doors. You could see how much they appreciated the help we were giving them. I especially enjoyed my deliveries when it involved the elderly who were so happy being remembered for Christmas. Hopefully, ity brought back memories of their younger days and this holiday. I know it brought back memories for me.
Town Santa did disappear for a number of years but it came back and on this past Sunday, December 19, I found myself up at the Knights on Medford Street. Inside the hall were so many volunteers from newer generations of Townies who continue to build on what older generations started. So many more volunteers and sadly still so many folks in need of thisTownie Santa gift to them.
A big shout out goes to Kim Mahoney from both the Bunker Hill Associates and the Warren Tavern for making the return of Townie Santa possible. She is a force to be reckoned with. If she believes in something, that something just seems to happen. She puts her heart, soul and strength into whatever she does. Also to be thanked is Paul Sullivan . Others include Tommy Cuhna, he was one of the younger guys back in the 1980s like me and he was there this past Sunday celebrating the 40th anniversary too. If I forgot to mention anyone, you know who you are and know that what we have all been doing this long now is still very much a good thing.