I recently sat down for an interview with Bill Connolly about Globe Santa, and their mission to help kids in need during the holidays.
Bill Connolly started volunteering with Globe Santa in 1967 when he was a messenger at the Globe.
Over the years he assisted in work whenever and wherever he was needed during the holiday season. Eventually he assumed overall direction for operations and fulfillment as Executive Director of Globe Santa.
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Transcript – Please note, this Transcript is AI Generated. It has not had the discerning ears of a real human to edit it, as such, there are bound to be a few errors
Jimmy Tingle 0:00
Hey everybody, this is Jimmy, welcome to another episode of the Jimmy tingle show. I am thrilled to be here today. My guest today is Bill Conway, and he represents globe Santa’s we are partnering with them on my shows this holiday season on December 29 30th. And January 1 At the first church in Cambridge, brother Bill Conley, welcome to the show. Tell us what Globe Santa is.
Bill Connolly 0:30
Thank you very, very much, Jimmy, it’s so great to be with you today. And I’m so happy that we’re collaborating on you bringing joy to your co listeners over this Christmas and holiday season. Globe Santa is all about the kids. Globe, Santa has been a gift Assistance Program, a holiday Christmas gift assistance program that the Boston Globe has been involved in since 1956. We’re so proud as a company, and as employees to be able to be to participate and share in such a wonderful program that helps so many children in the greater Boston area. Since 1956, over 3 million children have received toys from the gift assistance. And remember, gift assistance comes from donations, donations from the public that read the globe, read us online, read us in print, and go to our events that we have around the greater Boston area this time of year. And it’s really about making sure that we can buy the gifts for the children, it cost over a million dollars a year to make sure that the kids that request gift assistance are able to receive the gift. Now we verify the need. The other thing that’s unique and beyond the verification of need is that globe Santa’s delivers directly to the family’s home. So we get that letter, we bring it into our system, we process the content so that we verify all the information on it the number of children, the ages of children. And then we package up a box and we put in two books, two toys, a family game, we might have a school supplies because we have many companies that donate school supplies to us and individuals. And this year, we have a special outreach during the summer for for people to send in school supplies, and also long winter gear. So you get a really nice package of current toys each year that we’ve been doing this for the kids. Again, it’s we’re doing this since 1956. And sick we’re in our 67th year of going into the local community and saying kids you make a difference, the struggles that your family having financially or whatever the situation is. We’ll put it aside and we’re going to make sure you get toys and books on the Christmas season.
Jimmy Tingle 3:06
Oh, that’s fantastic bill. You know, folks I met Bill about, I don’t know, 1015 years ago when I was doing a show one one holiday season. And I got introduced to them. They asked me to dress up a Santa and hold a sign or hold a bell or something. And I’ve done it, you know, out on the highway. I’ve done
Bill Connolly 3:25
it in Yeah, route nine. We’re in route nine when you when you were on Route nine,
Jimmy Tingle 3:29
and I’m waving the wave in the bell rang the bell and they got the big pot give to globe Santa people stop and putting money in the pot. And other times I was doing it over on Newbury Street. And it’s always young. And Bill every time I see you around the holiday season and we get involved in this, you just light up with enthusiasm because I know you love it. You’ve been doing it for a while. How long have you been helping the globe with the globe Santa?
Bill Connolly 3:55
I’ve been helping with globe Santa since the day I started up the globe. I started the globe in 1967. So it’s quite a few years ago, right? I started as a messenger and there was a an email that went around and not an email because we didn’t have email back then. It was a note that went around that said, anyone that can help go up Sander in the afternoon, please, if you want to volunteer come down to the warehouse because that we used to package the toys at the warehouse on the Morrissey Boulevard facility at the Morrissey Boulevard facility for the Boston Globe. And I went down there and started packing. And that’s what I did the first year and the second year and then I got promoted to a situation where I was Comptroller of the company. And they said, Well, Bill, how would you like to help out with the finance? I said, sure. I’ll help out. I’ll put the you know put the checks in the math into the bank and I’ll make sure the money gets counted and we buy the toys. And then you know 9095 We started to have some transitioning of staff in seven said Bill How would you like to be The director of the globe center program, that means you got to, you know, work with the news department work with the Department of transitional assistance where, you know, all the all the organizational stuff. I said, Sure. Why don’t we do that too. So I’ve been doing globe Santas since 1967. And again, it’s been nothing but joy in my life. And, you know, for a while there, we did the shows like you were mentioning where we did. We did a goal of Santa sleigh would be on the streets and we were in the north end went down outside of the improv asylum. And all of a sudden, I’m ringing the bell with the sand. I’m not saying I’m just in my sweater, Mike Lopes and a sweater. I should probably show you what this feels like a sweater. Yeah. And a truck stops, puts on his emergency lights. A guy jumps out. He puts his hand in his pocket. He’s coming out bag. Well, what’s he got? I didn’t know what he was going to do. And he puts a wad of money in my hand. I’m talking it was a big wad of dollar bills. Okay. It ended up being almost $500. Wow. He obviously adjusted pay. He was a workman Yeah, just got paid. And he said, you know, something globes Santa gave to me. When I was a kid, wow. I’ve always wanted to give to club Saturday. But I never, never saw a chance to do it. And so this is my gift. That’s fabulous. It’s amazing in the places we go, and the people we meet, how many times I hear stories like that. I had a father one time when I was in Fanueil. Hall, he came up to me and said, you know, globe, Santa is responsible for my son becoming a New York giant. I said, Whoa, how did What do you mean? He goes, he got his first football from globe Santa. Wow. And that he went to high school locally here. He went to St. John’s prep. Then he went to the University of Connecticut. And not now at that point. This was a early. This is the mid 90s. I guess. He goes, that’s when I, I he made it to the and he made it to the New York Giants. So I mean, it’s just stories about people who have received glow Santa stories of people who have donated to globe Santa’s that really want me hot this time of year. And it makes a huge difference in the community. And I’m so happy that the globe gives all of its might and power and marketing. You know power is to make sure the word gets out each year. That globe Santa is here.
Jimmy Tingle 7:31
Right? It’s a great story Bill and I again you just light up when you start talking about it because people come out of the woodwork don’t they they stop you on the street if they see a globe Santa sign or person out there with a bell or like that you said with the gentleman with the sleigh, it jogs their memory from when they were Yes.
Bill Connolly 7:50
That’s right. And you know, Lenny clock, a friend friend, Diaz comedian in the local area. He loves telling a story about his how his family was a globe, Santa’s family. And, you know, and now he does, you know, shows for glow of Santa. For the 10 years in a row. We’ve had comedy night at giggles up inside. Oh, good. It’s wonderful. And as you did with your gang and your theater, from the member, we had that crew that we had up in the states from your own East Cambridge crew, and oh, yeah,
Jimmy Tingle 8:20
yeah. We always had fun doing it. And it’s, it’s just a great spirit. And it’s fun dressing up as Santa Claus to occasionally. Occasionally you would ask me, Jimmy, get out there and ring that bell and get put your Santa hat on. And it’s always fun and people respond. I mean, when people were so stressed around the holidays, it’s just heartwarming to see people doing things for you know, they’re not being paid for it. They just volunteers are most of the people at the Globe volunteers when they when they help doing this.
Bill Connolly 8:52
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it’s volunteers that go through the entire organization volunteers from the marketing and events group volunteers, from our shipping and, and production group, we package all of the toys now in Taunton mass, where we print the way the Boston Globe is printed. And it’s a season of giving at the club for people and they love doing it. And it’s also they know that that it makes a difference for the families. And the other thing is wonderful is when you when you start to read the letters that the family send in, you end up come you end up having this reconstruction of what it was like to live in the 1958 or nine, it’s 1968 or 1978, the same struggles, the same kinds of situations that affected the families. And whether it’s you know, being a single parent, whether it’s, you know, abuse in the family, it’s just a drugs or whatever. It’s it’s amazing, but it makes a difference in a kid’s life. Right. That’s why we do it.
Jimmy Tingle 9:56
And Phil, what was your job? You said you started at the globe as a messenger What was a messenger? And what like, were you a writer or a journalist ever for the globe? Or were you behind the scenes? So what was your
Bill Connolly 10:06
night? Well, I started as a messenger. And I used to pick up advertising copy and things like that. And downtown or might even, that’s why we were out on Route nine, because we had a, we had Sears and a couple of customers who were out in route nine. And then I, you know, I went to school during the day and worked nights of the globe and got my degree in accounting. And when I got my degree, they said, Hey, how would you like to become an accounting manager? I said, Sure, I’ll become an accountant. And I didn’t know what that meant. And so I did that for about five years. And then someone said, you know, hey, listen, we need a controller, how would you like to become a controller?
Unknown Speaker 10:45
I said, I love that five years. So every five years, I’d say, Well, how would you like to do this?
Bill Connolly 10:49
I always like to do that. And I’ll never forget Davis Taylor. One time when I was, I was driving Davis Taylor. It was one of my jobs, who was Davis Taylor now, Davis Taylor was the publisher of The Globe back in 19. In the 1960s, before his son, Bill Taylor, who was a publisher, as well became publisher. And he said to me, when I was driving is, you know, you graduated from Boston College, he said, What are you going to do next year? I said, Well, I’m taking interviews with companies, and I might be going to use them to work for Exxon. But you know, I’m just, you know, I’m not sure yet he goes, Well, you know, you kind of find it hard to leave the club. I said, Well, what do you mean, he says, Well, no one’s gonna pay you as good as what the globe pays you. I said, well do JSA I hope I can do you know, at least that much. I was making $57 a week. So I never left the globe. And so and then, you know, along the way, I worked as the front controller, I became business manager. And then I became treasurer. And, and then when we merged with the in the New York Times bought the Boston Globe, there was a special project that I assisted on with between the times in the globe and merging all of our financial systems into a shared service center. So I worked for the New York Times for a year and a half, and was president of their socials, their shared service center in Norfolk, Virginia. So I’ve had quite a career there. That’s great
Jimmy Tingle 12:24
as the Comptroller, and as the accountant, clearly, you have kept the globe in the black all these years, I think we should be very proud of that. Very few big institutions can say they’re in the black and you’re looking at the man, ladies and gentlemen, who kept the Washington globe afloat, financially for five decades.
Bill Connolly 12:45
And it’s still doing it. And thank God did John Henry and Linda Henry now are handling all of that they’re really doing a wonderful job of keeping the globe a top of the business and it’s a it’s still a wonderful newspaper for this community and making a difference. Oh, yeah. It’s
Jimmy Tingle 13:01
it’s a national paper, very well respected national paper. We’re lucky to have them here in Massachusetts, that’s for sure. New England, that’s for sure. And we’re really lucky to know that they had this philanthropic side to them. And I know they’ve, they always have I know, John and Linda Henry have always had that as well. And it’s great to know that the family, the Taylor family started that back in the day, and that you’ve been associated with globe Santa for I guess, let’s see. 67 is 7787. Yeah, for five decades.
Bill Connolly 13:31
Yeah, exactly. Fantastic. Exactly. All 50 years. Wow. That’s great.
Jimmy Tingle 13:37
Built in over 3 million people serve. That’s pretty incredible. And those
Bill Connolly 13:42
3 million members a million challenge families and you know, it takes it takes a whole organization to make it work. And, you know, in conjunction with putting the gifts together and packaging, we’re very we work very well with the US Post Office, the US Postal Service delivers all of our packages. We have a great relationship with them. They have really, really make it work. And so I have nothing but respect and admiration for the US postal workers that deliver these package. They do a great job of the families directly.
Jimmy Tingle 14:16
Yeah, they do a great job of the post office. And so do you build and sell just the Boston Globe. So we’re thrilled that you could be able to join us today. And I just want to tell our listeners if you want to help globe Santa, there’s a couple of ways to help you can go directly to them at globe center.org Is that what it is built? Yes, it is globe center.org. You can make a donation right there if you want to help them if you need that that link will be in our show notes today. And if you want to come to a show my show on December 29 or December 30th or January 1 At the first church in Cambridge 11 Garden Street, you can come to that show you buy a ticket right online and 10 A you choose globe Santa when the code says how to do To find out about this event, you just click on globe, Santa, and globe, Santa will get $10. And when you check out after buying the ticket, you can just say it says we’d like to make an additional donation. And you can make a donation and additional donation to glow cents. And so you’re not limited to just the $10 that we give out of the ticket price to close Santa. So we’re thrilled to partner with you. It makes us feel good. And I know it makes you feel good. Because once again, you light up, you are a Christmas tree, you are walking talking Christmas tree.
Bill Connolly 15:30
Well, it’s easy when you know that your work has impacted the community. And you, you you hear it from the families day in and day out. Yeah, why we’re doing this. And we’re not when we read the letters, we cry. Wow. And we laugh. Yeah. It’s just amazing time to listen to what families have to tell us about this situation. Yeah, but it’s a great program. And we love doing it.
Jimmy Tingle 15:58
And the struggles are still there front and center. I mean, you know, you’d like you said that the challenges are still there for for everybody. And in some ways there may be more than they were back then in some ways that
Bill Connolly 16:12
have changed. You know, we you know, we’re like now we have we’re dealing with, you know, you know, new immigrants coming in. We have we’ve had families, you know, from the Ukraine applying for globe, Santa this year that happened to be living in this, this area right now. Wow. So we have, you know, a couple of you last year, we had families from Afghanistan, that are living in this area that needed some help. So it’s an you know, the other thing is, we help families and we we keep track, so we know who we’ve served. And every year we have a 50% turnover. So it’s not like you know, some years we have some repeat families. Not often though 50% of the turn is turned over every year. Wow. And we’ll do we’re going to have over 17,000 families this year. Well, we’ve been as high as 35,000 families. I mean, 35,000 children. Okay. And this year, we’re going to be close to 29,000 children. So out of the 17,000 families. So it’s it’s quite a program. And Well,
Jimmy Tingle 17:14
Bill, it’s an honor to work with you. And it’s an honor to partner with globe, Santa, and you’re quite a guy 50 years at globe, Santa’s messenger to leading the Boston Globe into the next century of fiscal responsibility.
Bill Connolly 17:30
Now, it’s always great working with you, Jimmy, you bring a smile to my face, as well as to the people that you come in contact with. And you know why it’s so important?
Jimmy Tingle 17:41
Oh, yeah, it’s tough, but you guys make life easier for people. So thank you so much for joining us today. Bill. I will be talking to you. Hopefully you can come to the show one of the shows December 29, the 30th of January 1. But thanks again for all your help all your support for spreading the joy, the true meaning of Christmas and the holidays at this time of year. Doesn’t get better than globe. Santa. Thank you so much, Bill.
Bill Connolly 18:05
Thank you very, very much Jimmy.