A decade ago, when long-time Christmas in the City volunteer – and shelter captain – Marty Kaufman invited Donna Role to join his crew at the annual CITC holiday party, she jumped at the chance. Her family – husband Chuck and her children Garrett and Amanda – jumped with her, and each year since, the Role family has volunteered to help out with the party. Thus began a family tradition that was observed even in the 2020 covid year, when the Roles bought gifts and stuffed backpacks for “their” shelter.
No one was a bigger fan of the Christmas in the City party than son Garrett.
According to his mom, “Garrett was like a kid himself, so he really related to the children at the party. He had such boyish enthusiasm and loved to have fun. Each year, he couldn’t wait to dive in and be part of it all. Folks would remember him from year to year – ‘hey, it’s the tall guy with the man bun who puts kids on his shoulders and races into Winter Wonderland.’” (That’s Garrett and his sister Amanda rocking their buns at the party.)
Last January, the unthinkable happened, and Garrett Role died suddenly at the age of 30, leaving behind his devastated family and friends.
The Roles immediately made the decision to ask that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Christmas in the City, “a charity near and dear to Garrett’s heart.”
Dozens of donations were made in Garrett’s memory, raising nearly $7,000 that will help ensure that Christmas in the City will continue its mission to bring comfort and joy to those in need – especially around the holidays.
“Garrett had a huge heart,” Donna Role told us, “And enjoyed helping others. He was one of those people who’d give you the shirt off his back – even if he didn’t have one! My son had his ups and downs, but through it all he never lost sight of his interest in Christmas in the City. We always knew that he could be counted on, that he would never disappoint all those kids he carried on his shoulders!”
Christmas in the City is so grateful to the Role family for thinking of us during a time of such profound grief. We couldn’t do all that we do without the generosity and caring of people like the Roles and their family and friends who honored him by giving to our organization.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of Christmas in the City. We will miss Garrett Role. May his memory be a blessing to all who loved this kind and giving young man.