Mercantile Center donates $2,500 to T&G Santa fund at ceremony

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By Veer Mudambi

Photo: Rick Cinclair/Telegram & Gazette

WORCESTER ― Charles “Chip” Norton, managing director of the Mercantile Center, presented a total of $2,500 in donations to the Telegram & Gazette Santa fund from Mercantile Center and Worcester Business Center at a Wednesday celebration in the lobby of the Mercantile Center.

This year marks the 85th anniversary of the program, established in 1938 to purchase toys for children in the community through donations from residents, businesses and civic entities. Together with the United Way of Central Massachusetts and partner agencies, families of needy children are identified.

“We’re a major contributor to the United Way. We believe strongly in the whole cause and program, so this was an easy decision,” said Norton, dressed as an elf alongside the T&G Santa.

“We are in what I like to call a partnership of joy with the T&G,” said Tim Garvin, CEO of United Way. Garvin said that as of Wednesday morning, 14,000 toys were sorted to distribute to children across 15 agencies.

“In the midst of vulnerability and challenges, kids will be able to understand that their parents thought of them and the community thought of them and they can have some joy,” he said.

Speakers included Norton, Garvin, Michael McDermott, executive editor of the Telegram & Gazette, District 2 Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, Craig Blais, CEO of Worcester Business Development Corp., Erin Wilson, vice president of resident services at the Worcester Housing Authority, and Joel Wallen, associate executive director at Pernet Family Health Services.

The trademark sleigh was on display in the lobby, loaded with gift boxes.

“I fondly remember, during that holiday season, that actual sleigh was there in the lobby,” said Blais, when he would come down to the Telegram’s office at 20 Franklin St. as a child to make his payment as a Telegram carrier.

A half century later, Blais would be responsible for saving that sleigh and restoring a key part of the holiday tradition. Having purchased the Telegram & Gazette building from The New York Times Co., Blais found the sleigh in the basement. At his insistence, it was taken, restored and displayed in the lobby of the paper’s new home at the Mercantile Center.

“It’s almost a Christmas miracle that we were able to do that,” he said.

Blais also donated a $250 check on behalf of the Worcester Business Development Corp.

Thanks to donations from readers, as well as local businesses and civic organizations, T&G Santa purchases toys for children in need who are identified by some 20 partner organizations. This year, the fund will provide gifts for nearly 8,000 youngsters in our community.

The United Way of Central Massachusetts is a main partner in the effort.

This year, more than ever, T&G Santa needs help from donors like you, to ensure that we can continue our work in the years to come.

To donate, find the coupon in the T&G Santa ad in today’s newspaper, or go to