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Millis/Medway - Local Town Pages

Santa Foundation Working through Pandemic

Nov 28, 2020 12:46PM ● By Judy O'Gara

Richard Timmons and Patricia Toney stand outside Santa’s Workshop at The Santa Foundation in Franklin. Not only does the organization help provide 800 needy families in several communities with Christmas gifts, it also lends a hand for emergency need

2020 will be The Santa Foundation’s 35th year, and what a year it’s been. “Covid-19 has put a damper on some of the Santa Foundations’ efforts, but we’re still going to continue to do what we’ve done in the past and persevere through it,” says Richard “Dick” Timmons, who   for decades worked alongside his parents in law, The Santa Foundation’s founders Robert F. Sullivan, and his wife, Elaine. Timmons, his family, and a handful of volunteers continue the long-term mission since Robert passed and Elaine retired. “Bob, started this tradition 35 years ago,” says Dick Timmons. “He taught us all it’s better to give than to receive. It’s grown so much in Franklin and surrounding communities. We don’t want to let him down and intend to continue the tradition in his honor.” Sullivan began the tradition by buying gifts for two children from the Franklin Food Pantry. Now, community members help their needy neighbors by purchasing and donating gifts. This month is the busiest one for The Santa Foundation, which this year anticipates handing out gifts to about approximately 5,000 people. That constitutes 800+ families, says Timmons. Due to the pandemic, a few changes have been made. “We’re limiting staffing in the workshop,” says Pat Timmons, Dick’s son, who has revamped The Santa Foundation’s website and manages its social media operations along with volunteer Karina Thomas. “We’ve had to do contactless pickup for Covid19 and make sure it’s safe for our volunteers and families getting gifts.” “A lot of families are still traditionally buying (gifts) for whole families and dropping it off to us,” says Timmons. This year, much of that is being done through Amazon, with shipments going directly to the Santa Foundation. For those who want to drop off gifts, the Foundation has installed a bell and speaker at the back entrance, so that packages may be dropped off with limited face-to-face interaction. In addition, The Santa Foundation has an Amazon wish list, which can be found at HQFXZRL3X7MH?ref_=wl_ share&fbclid=IwAR2r9Ftg85z6AkwmEDwl - 7GQoRQ23dh_IVzhuRyQhtiWu9Iz1bvoC2OQcwQ. The Santa Foundation, in cooperation with local sponsors, also has a number of “giving trees” in various locations. Folks may take a tag that lists a gift wish from a family in need from one of these trees, purchase the gift, and return it to the tree location. This year, giving trees are located at: • Postal Center, 279 E Central Street, Franklin • Postal Center, 9 Medway Rd., Ste. C, Milford • Postal Center, 14 Milliston Rd., Millis • King Street Deli, 390 King St., Franklin • Norfolk Credit Union, 194 Main St., Norfolk • Middlesex Bank, 1000 Franklin Village Drive, Franklin • James Roadside Café, 850 Franklin St., Wrentham • Dry Cleaning Pros., 474 King Street, Franklin • Walmart, 250 Hartford Ave., Bellingham • Franklin Police Department, 911 Panther Way, Franklin • Medway Police Department, 315 Village St., Franklin • Norfolk Fire Department, 117 Main St, Norfolk The Covid shutdown canceled The Santa Foundation’s biggest fundraiser, its annual golf tournament, as well as Breakfast with Santa. Despite the cancellation, however, many of the sponsors chose to donate anyway, which has helped sustain operations. (For a complete list of sponsors, visit The Santa Foundation’s website.) In addition, sales of The Santa Foundation’s fundraising calendar, available online this year in addition to being presented in local stores and restaurants, have been robust. “We sold over 50% online,” says Pat. “We created a very easy form for people to fill out if they wanted more than one, and that worked very well. (This was) shared across the Franklin town website, and remote teams at work. (This sale) was a big driver for raising funds this year.” Covid-19 has limited the number of people The Santa Foundation can help, says Pat Timmons, with only two people of the 12-person volunteer team able to work at a time in the space. The backbone that team, stresses Timmons, are volunteers Jan Printice, Lia Thomas, Patricia Toney and Richard Tomaino, who keep the operation going. Still, he says, “We’re staying steadily at the 800 number. Hopefully, next year, we’ll have a vaccine.” Since it began, the Santa Foundation has delivered gifts to over 105,000 people. What began in Franklin expanded to include needy families in Medway Norfolk, Wrentham and Millis, as well as families in Bellingham, Blackstone, Millville, Sheldonville, Plainville, Holliston, Medfield, and Hopedale. In addition to gifts during the holiday season, The Santa Foundation also uses financial donations “to help people with heat, rent and utilities,” says Dick Timmons, “Especially as we get to the colder months, and with the current unemployment situation.” The easiest way to provide a financial donation to the organization is through its website, sfjoy. org. Timmons adds that $25 gift cards to stores such as Walmart, Target, Stop & Shop and Big Y also always come in handy. “We’re also experiencing a great need for Pampers, diapers, and children’s clothes for boys and girls under 5,” says Timmons. “We’re seeing people need coats and hats and things like that. Some years, kids want toys, but I think people are getting down to basic needs; they want gift cards to food and clothing stores more than prior years.” In the spirit of it’s better to give than receive, Timmons adds that a donation made on another person’s behalf, in their name, may be a perfect gift this holiday season. “Looking for a gift for a friend or loved one? Just look around, and if they have one too many wineglasses, coffee mugs or scarves, then make a donation to the Santa Foundation in their name. You both will feel better, because Christmas is all about giving,” says Timmons. To reach the Santa Foundation, located at 1 Joy Street in Franklin, visit, or find them on Facebook. You can also call (508) 528-1767, or email [email protected]