Jennifer Burns, coordinator of Toys for Tots and Fill the Dracut Food Pantry Drive


DRACUT — It’s a bit of a twist on the more traditional visit to Santa – the kind where a child comes away with a gift. For tomorrow’s fundraiser, hosted by the Mammoth Road Club and MG Entertainment, the visit to Santa is more about giving to others.

Jennifer (Lucius) Burns, 29, a 2000 graduate of Dracut High School, is coordinating the Toys for Tots Drive along with a food drive and fundraiser for the Dracut Food Pantry. It takes place at the Mammoth Road Club, where lots of festivities for all ages are planned from 3 p.m. until closing, including a visit from Santa from 3 to 6 p.m.

Organizers welcome adults to come by — even if just to drop off a donation — and bring along the kids. They’ll have the unique opportunity to turn the tables by giving to Santa an unwrapped toy or nonperishable food donation during their visit on his lap.

Burns, a service manager at a computer company who also tends bar one night at week at the Mammoth Road Club, answered five questions about plans to rally the community to help make the season merrier for people in need.

Q: How did this fundraiser get its start?

A: We, my husband Rob and I, have always had a Christmas party at our house to collect toys for Toys for Tots. This year we wanted to do something bigger, especially after reading in the paper how the power outage caused the Dracut Food Pantry to lose a lot of food. We didn’t want anyone to have to go without food at Christmas. We wanted to do something where we could get the whole community involved, because everyone benefits from this. You never know if you are going to need it some day. We also wanted to build awareness because a lot of people we’ve talked to still don’t even know that Dracut has a food pantry.

Q: What will take place from 3 p.m. until closing?

A: Santa will be here from 3 to 6. We’ll also have entertainment by disc jockey Mikey Guerin (MG Entertainment), who is donating his time. Mikey and his wife, Paula, are helping to host the event. We’ll have a raffle with gift cards and other donations we have been receiving from all over town, plus a turkey raffle and a 50/50 raffle.

If you bring in $10 or more in nonperishable food donations or an unwrapped toy, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a special door prize — four Bruins tickets. We’ll take donations through the weekend and announce the winner on Monday. We’ll also be serving lots of food, complimentary.

I think it’s great to bring the kids to see Santa and give them a chance to help others. They know they are giving to Santa so Santa can then give that toy to a boy or girl who doesn’t have anything. Why wait for hours to see Santa at the mall when you can beat the rush and be here?

Q: If someone can’t make it to the event tomorrow, can they still donate?

A: We have boxes set up inside the club, so donations can be dropped off today (Friday) through Tuesday, any time between our opening at 11 a.m. and closing at 2 a.m. We’ll be dropping off all donations on Wednesday.

Q: What has been the community response so far?

A: So many people are donating their time and gifts cards. When they hear it’s the Dracut Food Pantry and that this is not a traditional Christmas party, it’s one where you can help others, people are really interested in helping. We’ve gotten a great response from the town and the businesses.

Q: Do you see this — giving to others — as the true spirit of the season?

A: I do. At the mall people are out buying endless stuff, while this will have more of an impact on people’s lives, so much more so than buying another TV or Xbox. We’re hoping to get really, really big donations for Dracut Food Pantry just in time for the holidays. Plus, 100 percent of the money raised from the raffles will go to the pantry. We’ll be cutting them a check so they can buy whatever extras they might need to give out at the pantry for Christmas. And at the end of the day, we’ll all feel great knowing that we were able to help.

Saturday, Dec. 10, Mammoth Road Club, 1486 Mammoth Road, Dracut.

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