Bill Lynch isn't sure how, but each year the Salem Snow Ball, a Globe Santa benefit party he started with friends 12 years ago, just kind of comes together. This year, as usual, he was a little nervous about the turnout.
"If you'd asked me right before the party, I would have said we'd be happy raising two or three thousand, but I just dropped off a check to Globe Santa for $7,500," Lynch, a Danvers insurance agent said recently, with pride, and a little bit of awe, evident in his voice.
He should be proud. The house party started in 1995 and raised about $1,600. Now the Salem Snow Ball's cumulative total is about $70,000.
This year, the Salem Snow Ball was held on Dec. 1, a bitterly cold night. But frigid temperatures didn't keep people away. Most of the crowd of 150 stayed until the end, the sure sign of a good party. "After the auction, everyone was just itching to start dancing," Lynch said.
Lynch said the spirit of the Salem Snow Ball really kicks off the holiday season for him and his insurance company co-worker Jane Fuller, who helps organize the party.
And the spirit of giving lingers throughout the month of December.
"Just last week I ran into someone who gave me a check," Lynch said.
He laughed when he explained that during the live auction segment of the evening a friend bid $700 to play golf with him this summer at Ferncroft. He said it was a gesture that defines what the Salem Snow Ball is all about.
"Everyone just wants to help," Lynch said, "even if it means paying to play golf with me."
Another friend delivered a check from a friend who is a letter carrier and has seen the impact that a package delivered from Globe Santa has on children - and adults. (The US Postal Service delivers Globe Santa's packages in some 160 eastern Massachusetts communities.)
Thousands of children again this year will have a happy Christmas filled with toys and gifts thanks to the support of Globe Santa's helpers like Bill Lynch and his friends and co-workers.
Without them, Christmas morning would be a dreary day for children whose families are unable to afford Christmas presents.
Knowing that, and the fact that every dollar donated goes to buying gifts, is what keeps Bill Lynch, and many more like him, devoted to supporting Globe Santa.
"When this whole thing started, I never imagined we'd be going strong after 13 years," Lynch said. "Now we want to keep going for 25. It gets the Christmas season going, it's our thing."