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Children's needs inspired annual Salem benefit

It started as a simple enough idea in 1995.

Bill Lynch and his two co-workers at his insurance agency wanted to throw a Christmas party that would give something back to the community while showing their friends and clients a good time. So Lynch decided to help children, phoned Globe Santa, started selling tickets in town, and the idea took off.

"I was commuting to Salem for work, and I'd read the stories in the Globe about kids at Christmas who had nothing," Lynch said. "That always got to me, so we thought this would be a good way to help."

The Salem Knights of Columbus offered to host the party for free, and the first Salem Snow Ball raised $1,632 for Globe Santa. The semiformal gala was such a success, the group never looked back. This year's 10th annual Salem Snow Ball is expected to raise about $7,500.

"At this point, everything for the party is donated," Lynch said. "The food, the hall, DJ, prizes, you name it. In fact, I had local restaurants calling to find out when it was going to be so they could send food and gift certificates."

This year's event, which will be held Saturday at the Salem Knights of Columbus, is expected to attract up to 220 people, Lynch said. He and fellow organizer Jane Fuller said the night will feature complimentary hors d'oeuvres, more than 18 door prizes, musical entertainment, and Santa Claus. They even had T-shirts printed to raise extra money. The Danvers High School Traveling Choir will also make an appearance, with a local trolley company volunteering to transport the students back and forth from the high school.

More information concerning this year's ball can be obtained by calling Lynch at 978-750-0044 or Fuller at 978-777-8718.

Companies like Lynch's Insurance Agency, now located in Danvers, give to Globe Santa every year. Big corporations and small start-ups organize fund-raising events, take up office collections, or donate in lieu of sending clients gifts, and then let them know with a holiday card that they have helped make children happy on Christmas.

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