What does Christmas in the City actually do?
The purpose of Christmas in the City is to ameliorate the impact of poverty and homelessness on Boston-area families, and to work towards the goal of eliminating homelessness. In addition to the annual party, which each year hosts thousands of guests, we distribute gifts to thousands of other families in need of assistance during the holiday season. We provide Thanksgiving food baskets to families who need help with putting a traditional Thanksgiving meal on the table. Our Support-a-Family program offers advice and assistance to families transitioning from shelters to their own housing. We also run the Christmas in the City Job Fair.
How does Christmas in the City work?
Christmas in the City is an all-volunteer organization. There is no paid staff. We function because thousands of us give time and money to help our neighbors. Our volunteers range in age from kids in elementary schools to retirees. We all do what our circumstances allow, some of us giving an hour or two of our time or a donation of a toy or a small check, others making substantial commitments of time and money.
We have found that by pulling together and doing our best, good things happen.
How is Christmas in the City different from ‘Toys for Tots’ & other organizations that collect/distribute holiday gifts?
While toys are an important part of Christmas in the City, our focus is engaging our neighbors, both guests and volunteers, in a magical moment, which brings out the best in all of us and becomes a memory we can share. Christmas in the City provides each child living in a shelter with the gift that child has selected, wrapped with a card personalizing it for the child. The gift is presented to each child at party which is far beyond their wildest dreams.
After being greeted at the door by their favorite cartoon characters, the children are lavished with a catered lunch, a stage show, petting zoo, hands-on exhibits from local museums, carnival rides, clowns, athletes from local pro teams, visits with Santa. Hair dressers, barbers and estheticians pamper both moms and kids. Dentists clean teeth. All this happens in a safe, festive environment. For most of our guests, the Christmas in the City party is The Best Day of the Year.
More than simply giving a gift, we attempt to connect with the family and child in a way that they know their neighbors care for them. And having developed relationships with organizations sheltering homeless families, Christmas in the City is able to offer support and guidance to families as they transition from shelters to their own homes.
What is a CITC satellite?
CITC receives thousands of presents and donations from organizations and individuals. The gifts end up stacked from floor to ceiling at Kennedy Brothers’ Physical Therapy office in Downtown Crossing. While this is amazing and needs to be seen to be believed, Christmas in the City has grown beyond the point where the gifts we need, and the space required to plan and execute what we do, can no longer be accommodated in the space we have. Plus this space limitation does not allow us to involve volunteers as effectively and efficiently as either we or they would like. Satellites allow us to better connect with volunteers, as well as allow volunteers to come together to fundraise/collect presents in many different locations.
A satellite consists of a group of individuals in an area that will be focused on a various tasks…raising funds, collecting presents, providing administrative support, soliciting volunteers for particular tasks or some of all of these things. They can be responsible for acquiring needed toys from the toy list or adopting a shelter and obtaining specific presents for each boy and girl. Each satellite group receives assistance, instructions, and contact with CITC organizers to ensure the process goes smoothly and satisfyingly for all concerned.
Does Christmas in the City accept ‘lightly used’ toys?
No. Each child gets a new toy he or she specifically requests. We do accept non-toy items and collectibles that can serve as stocking stuffers if they are in like new condition.