The Sun Santa was established in 1989, it is sponsored by Lowell Sun Charities, which was founded in 1947. The purpose of Sun Santa is to provide families that need assistance with clothing/toys and grocers for a holiday meal at Christmas. The Sun Santa provides for families in need throughout the 23 cities and towns that the Lowell Sun services.

Sun Santa applicants are interviewed at the following social service agencies: The Salvation Army and Community Teamwork, Inc. These agencies identify those most in need, verify eligibility and distribute the food and clothing/toy vouchers. In 2011 these agencies distributed over $142,000 in Sun Santa vouchers.

Separate vouchers for clothing/toy and groceries are given out by these social service agencies. The amount is determined by the information supplied by the recipient. Clothing/toy vouchers may be redeemed at these participating stores: Kmart (Tewksbury and Billerica), Rogers Toy Store in downtown Lowell and the Target store in Lowell. Applicants are instructed to purchase toys, clothing or teen merchandise only, and the stores are instructed to enforce this. Grocery vouchers may be redeemed at Hannaford and Market Basket stores, the purpose being to purchase the ingredients for a Christmas meal. Vouchers may not be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.

Donations are gathered throughout the community in many ways. Personal donations are solicited through direct mail, newspapers and internet ads. Donations can also be made by visiting www.LowellSun.com/SunSanta. Many elementary and middle schools have fundraisers during the holiday season. Also, many businesses, both large and small, make contributions.

Canisters, stickers and Sun Santa buttons and posters are available to those who wish to have a fundraiser. Once a company or individual determines what their specific fundraiser will be, The Sun newspaper will included this information in their Sun Santa column (on a space available basis). If a business collects more than $500, you may submit a digital photo and it will be published in The Sun on a space available basis.

Please call Ed Madden at 978-970-4712 if you should have any questions.