Chemalys Help Sun Santa Launch Season of Giving
LOWELL -- John and Linda Chemaly are well-known throughout the region for their generosity and involvement in local communities personally and through their Trinity EMS.
Their propensity for charity made them a natural choice to be The Sun Santa Fund’s first outside campaign chairs for 2017.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had an outside chairman, and we couldn’t get a better couple to do this,” said Sun Charities Chairman and Sun Publisher Emeritus Kendall Wallace. “We want to talk to the real Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus -- they’re the model.”
The campaign launches today, with a goal of raising $300,000 by Dec. 31 to provide toy and gift vouchers to local families in need in partnership with the Salvation Army and Community Teamwork Inc. The agencies process applications from families in the 23 communities in The Sun’s circulation area and distribute the vouchers.
For each of its 29 years, The Sun Santa Fund has met its annual goal of helping every family that applies. Last year, the families served totaled 1,257.
With the Chemalys on board, “I know we’ll go over the top,” Wallace said.
The longtime supporters of The Sun Santa Fund will personally donate $10,000 to the cause this year, in addition to any donations that come from Trinity EMS.
“If there is a need, we will step up and fill that need,” Linda Chemaly said. “We hope we could be an example for the future.”
“My goal, personally, is to raise the largest amount of money The Sun Santa has ever raised,” John Chemaly said. “We’d like our families and our friends to help us join in on the effort.”
Growing up in Chelmsford, Linda Chemaly said her parents were great examples of generosity. She said her husband, with his innate responsibility to give back, continues that mentorship.
John Chemaly said the name Trinity comes from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and they try to act as the Holy Trinity would see fit.
“It’s an amazing thing that we find, that as our business expands and becomes more successful, we give more and more out every year, and the cup that we give from just keeps filling up,” he said. “It’s an awesome thing to see how many people we can help.
“I think it’s a responsibility of most corporations that are successful -- you have to give back,” he added. “You can’t just put it in your pocket. What good is that? You’ve got to give it back.”
Many businesses, big and small, support The Sun Santa Fund each year. Its major sponsor, Lowell General Hospital, hosts a gift raffle basket campaign each year in early December. Last year, the basket drive raised more than $60,000 in ticket sales. Hospital administration matched the amount for a gift of $125,000.
Raytheon in Tewksbury and Enterprise Bank are also major contributors.
Most donations, however, come from individuals contributing $5 to $25, and local schools are encouraged to hold “penny drives.” Every donation counts, no matter how big or small, said The Sun Santa Fund Coordinator Nancy Roberts.
John Chemaly said he and his wife appreciate the grassroots, community-oriented nature of The Sun Santa Fund.
“The community really does come together and take care of our neighbors,” Roberts said.
Since its founding in 1988, the goal of The Sun Santa Fund has been to help every family in need that has been identified by our partners, The Salvation Army and Community Teamwork Inc. The Army and CTI process applications from families in the 23 communities in The Sun’s circulation area and distribute gift and food vouchers to the families.
Thanks to our major partner, Lowell General Hospital, local businesses, schoolchildren and readers we have always met our goal. Sun Santa vouchers are accepted at Rogers Toys in Lowell, Kmart in Billerica, Hannaford Supermarket in Dracut, Lowell and Chelmsford and all Market Basket stores.
Many donations come from individuals who donate $5 to $25. All donations help and are recorded by the newspaper.
Donation canisters, stickers and buttons are available for businesses who would like to help. Businesses donating $500 or more are welcome to submit a digital photo that will be printed in The Sun as space is available.
Teachers are encouraged to hold “penny drives” in their buildings or classrooms to involve children in Sun Santa.
Secure online donations can be made at lowellsun.com/sunsanta , or by mail to The Sun Santa Fund, 491 Dutton St. Lowell, MA 01854. Brief messages are welcome.
Mark your calendar for the following events to benefit The Sun Santa Fund:
* Saturday, Nov. 25, from noon-3 p.m., Fuse Bistro, corner of Palmer and Middle streets: Kris Pisarik, The Sun’s managing editor/nights, and his band Zephyr are teaming up with the great folks of Fuse Bistro to benefit The Sun Santa Fund. Come work off that Thanksgiving turkey by singing along to Zephyr’s pop, and songs of the season. An assortment of raffles will be offered.
* Saturday, Nov. 25, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., Watch for Sun Santa’s elves from Lowell High School, who will be passing out treats along the parade route.
* Friday, Dec. 1, 5:30-8 p.m., The Blue Shamrock, 105 Market St., Lowell: Former state Senator Steve Panagiotakos hosts his annual Sun Santa Party. Raffles will be included. Bring an unwrapped toy for the It’s All About the Kids Foundation.
* Thursday, Dec. 7, 6 to 9 p.m., Franco American Club, 55 West Prescott St., Westford: State Rep. Jim Arciero hosts his annual Sun Santa party. The event, the largest one-night Sun Santa fund-raising event, features raffles, a silent auction and entertainment. Bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.
* Dec. 7-13: The annual Lowell General Hospital Theme Basket Raffle begins on Thursday, Dec. 7. This event is the largest single fund-raiser for Sun Santa each year. Last year, the raffle raised more than $65,000, which was matched by the hospital for a total gift of $125,000.
Baskets will be on display at the main hospital campus only. Ticket sales (open to the public) dates and time are as follows:
LGH Main Campus, 295 Varnum Ave., Clark Auditorium: Thursday-Friday, Dec. 7-8, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 9-10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday, Dec. 11-12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Winners will be drawn on Wednesday, Dec., 13, at 3:30 p.m. in Clark Auditorium. The public is welcome.
* Saturday, Dec. 9, from noon to 6 p.m., Knickerbocker Club, 36 Chamberlain St., Lowell: Sun Santa’s friends at the Patriot Dart League host their annual benefit fundraising event. Entry fees are $15 per person/per event. Payouts will depend on the number of entries in each event. Big ticket raffle prizes include a TV, a pair of Bruins tickets, gift cards, scratch tickets and a tablet. Watch for a visit from Santa! Entry fees benefit The Sun Santa Fund.
* Sunday, Dec. 17, 1-5 p.m., at the Dom Polski Club, 10 Coburn St., Lowell: The Polish American Veterans of Lowell, Inc. and Ladies Auxiliary present the 10th Annual Sun Santa Family Christmas Party. $5 requested donation (children under age 12 admitted free); food, music, raffles, children’s activities, and surprise guests. The public is welcome to attend, all proceeds benefit The Sun Santa Fund.