Accompanied by a squad of their dedicated employees decked out in festive holiday apparel, Deb and Barry Lipsett, owners of Counselor Top 40 supplier Charles River Apparel (asi/44620) – this year’s Counselor Supplier Family Business of the Year – have led their team to participate in a singularly Bostonian event: Christmas in the City. Started in 1989, this 100% volunteer-run nonprofit is an annual holiday party for thousands of homeless children and their families in the Boston area. The now-famous event, recently moved to the Boston Convention Center due to its increased attendance, was held from December 17-18 and founded by the owners of Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy in Boston, who continue to run point on the massive yearly undertaking.
The over 5,000 children and their families were greeted with the fanfare of live music, a snow machine, volunteers dressed as Disney, Star Wars and superhero characters, and upon arrival could get their faces painted, receive free dental assessments and flu shots, and enjoy play time with other children in areas sponsored by the Boston zoo and the Discovery Museum. After lunch was served and the entertainment took the stage – this year, the legendary Blue Man Group made a special appearance – and there were impassioned speeches of support from local dignitaries such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. At 2 p.m. sharp, the main curtain in the room dropped to reveal a winter wonderland of amusement park rides and no less than 20 Santas who mesmerized the children, and the day culminated with each child being given a brand-new toy, selected especially for them. In addition, for the event’s second-day “Manic Monday” experience, where donated new clothing was available from which parents could select gift items, Charles River donated 1,400 pieces of apparel from its line valued at more than $33,000.
Charles River’s staffers, many of whom not only donate toys and clothing to Christmas in the City but volunteer for two days helping at the event itself, have participated for three years. “Volunteering for Christmas in the City is truly the highlight of our year,” said Deb Lipsett, co-owner of the company. “We are deeply grateful to have the opportunity to give our time and donate toys and Charles River Apparel jackets to hundreds of children in need.”
(From left): Charles River Apparel sales rep for the Michigan and Ohio areas, Kelly Connolly; Deb Corvalan and Madison Humphrey – the wife and stepdaughter of Charles River’s Rich Corvalan who drove all the way to Boston for the Christmas in the City event from New Jersey – en route to the event.
The owners of Charles River Apparel and two of the most altruistic people you’d ever want to meet, Deb & Barry Lipsett.
Group photo of the Charles River Apparel team, gearing up for a day of fun and volunteering.
Charles River Apparel’s Michigan-based sales dynamo, Kelly Connolly.
And then Wonder Woman showed up, bringing the badass.
At 11 a.m. last Sunday, over 5,000 underprivileged Boston-area families entered the town’s convention center for the kick-off to the annual Christmas in the City event.
Volunteers from Boston’s Discovery Museum led children through a variety of tactile games and experiments.
The famed Blue Man Group mesmerized the crowd as the performed for nearly 30 minutes.
Just in time for the release of the new Star Wars movie, a gaggle of Jedi showed up to share The Force with awed kids.
Behold The Toy Room, where volunteers hand-selected specific new toys (out of the thousands donated) for each child in attendance. Once toys were chosen, volunteers moved to The Wrapping Room to decorate each package.
After lunch was served, a curtain dropped with much fanfare to reveal a winter wonderland of rides, huge inflatable holiday characters like The Grinch and many roving Santas to entertain attendees.
MA Senator Elizabeth Warren made an appearance, to laud the annual event and its co-founders, Jake and Sparky Kennedy.
Because let’s be honest: it’s really not a party until Groot shows up.
ASI Senior Executive Director of Editorial Michele Bell's official Volunteer shirt as part of the Charles River Apparel team at Boston's annual Christmas in the City event for homeless families.