LOWELL — The annual Lowell General Hospital basket raffle to support Sun Santa is in full swing and filled with Christmas cheer, with lots of fun items for all ages and interests.
From power tools and home tech items to fine wine and thousands of dollars in cash, there’s a little something for everyone.
Thursday was the first day of the live basket viewing and raffle sales for the annual event, which is Sun Santa’s largest single fundraiser.
Employees from departments across the hospital donate money and create unique themed baskets each year for the event, which raised more than $170,000 for Sun Santa last year.
David Hall, senior manager of volunteer and concierge services at Lowell General, said the basket raffle has become an annual tradition for many people in the city.
“We start getting calls in the middle of November at the switchboard, ‘When are the raffles starting?’” Hall, of Lowell, said with a laugh. “I think it’s a big tradition and it gets people excited about the holidays.”
He and Debhinn Watts, manager of volunteer and concierge services, said they’re grateful to their employer for allowing them to be involved in this effort that benefits the community greatly.
Though she lives in Nashua now, Watts was born at LGH and grew up in Dracut, so the local community remains dear to her. She’s been involved with the raffle since she began working at the hospital 11 years ago.
“They allow us to do something really great for this community during the holiday season when people need it so much, and it feels great,” Watts said.
Everyone in the hospital, employees and volunteers alike, contribute to the basket raffle in some way, whether it’s donating to the baskets, selling and distributing tickets, working on the website, keeping the gifts secure, or a number of other avenues.
“It takes a lot of people, and they drop what they’re doing. They know if it’s Sun Santa time and we need something, they’re all just really willing to help,” Watts said. “Everyone just kind of knows this is what happens during the season and they’re happy to do what they can.”
Hall and Watts said many past recipients of Sun Santa come back and participate in the raffle. Watts recalled a young mother who was a recipient a couple years ago, bought tickets the following year and won a basket. She said it was great to hear her story.
“It just really keeps us, as a community hospital, connected to the community in so many different ways,” Watts said.
“There aren’t enough words to express our gratitude to our incredible partner, Lowell General Hospital,” said Sun Santa Coordinator Nancy Roberts. “We so appreciate the hard work and positive energy that goes into this amazing fundraising effort. From the LGH Philanthropy team, to the many departments and medical offices who create the baskets, to the support of the hospital administration, it does ‘takes a village’ to put it all together. We’re honored to be part of this community effort to ensure our neighbors in need in Greater Lowell will get to experience the joy of Christmas.”
Among the elaborate baskets this year is “I See Inside You!” Created by the Imaging Services and Radiology Department, this basket worth $600 features a snowman with a transparent body, revealing Crystal Head vodka and sugar skull ornaments, salt and pepper shakers, hot sauce and more inside.
A returning favorite is “Santa’s Stash of Christmas Cash,” which includes $4,250 in cash donated by several physicians’ practices connected to Lowell General. Another popular cash basket is the $950 triple-layer “Money Cake” by the Patient Accounts, Patient Financial Services and Patient Access departments, decorated by Patient Access employee Jeanne Nugent.
Other baskets include home security devices, Apple products, kitchen appliances and cooking utensils, Nintendo Switch gaming system and games, a drone, a week’s lodging at The Village of Loon Mountain, a plethora of gift cards and much more.
Online ticket sales began on Black Friday, Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. and are open through Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:59 p.m. View baskets and purchase tickets securely online at www.lowellgeneral.org/sunsanta.
Tickets purchased online are physically placed into the raffle bags by hospital volunteers to ensure that all tickets have an equal chance of being pulled on the drawing day.
The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the live basket viewing and raffle ticket sales at the LGH Main Campus, 295 Varnum Ave., Clark Auditorium, on the remaining days and times: Friday, Dec. 6 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Monday, Dec. 9 and Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Unlike previous years, raffle tickets will not be sold on the day of the drawing, so be sure to purchase your tickets by Tuesday, Dec. 10. Winners will be drawn on Wednesday, Dec. 11 starting at 3:30 p.m. in Clark Auditorium.