LYNN — It’s a traffic island most of the year. But the Wyoma Square median where Item Santa/Salvation Army collect donations might as well be called “Ray’s Place” in December.
Since the month started, Lynn resident Ray Grenier has logged more than 12 collection shifts averaging three hours or more and collected in excess of $1,500 for Item Santa from generous motorists.
That amount tops the $1,300 he collected in 2017. Grenier, one of 10 kids growing up in his Connecticut home, remembers Christmases filled with love but not necessarily an abundance of gifts.
“I want to help others and I like to give back,” he said.
Grenier often teams up with Larry Donahue and fellow Knights of Columbus members on the island located opposite Newhall Liquors. Most drivers greet Grenier and his donation bucket with a hearty and happy Merry Christmas, and their generosity runs the spectrum.
“Some people give a penny or a dime. Some give $20,” he said.
With retirement under his belt after 42 years working for the United States Postal Service, Grenier started working for Solimine Funeral Homes in 2017 and plunged into the holiday donation drive for Item Santa.
He said the chance to participate in the donation drive with friends and the opportunity to share holiday goodwill with passing drivers makes him feel grateful to live in East Lynn and be a Navy veteran who came home to raise three daughters with his wife of 47 years.
Now in its 52nd year, the Item Santa fund helps to make Christmas brighter for the needy. To donate, clip the coupon in The Item and mail it, along with your check, to The Item Salvation Army Santa, P.O. Box 5, Lynn, MA 01903. You can visit itemsanta.org to make a donation online.
All donations are listed in Item print editions through the month of December and into 2019, along with a brief message from each donor, if desired.
Those interested in signing up to collect at Santa Island or any business willing to sell stockings should contact David Solimine Sr. or Joel Solimine at 781-595-1492.
NOTE: The application period for aid from Item Santa has closed and The Item does not process applicants. All questions about the program and distribution of gifts should be directed to Salvation Army at 781-598-0673.