A Magical Milestone

Santa’s Magic celebrates 35 years of giving

Original article published in the Tri-Town Transcript, written by Wendall Waters

This is the 35th year that Santa’s Magic has brightened Christmas Day for patients and staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And, they did it in style. Three teams, each with a Santa and elves, fanned out in the morning to deliver some 1,200 gifts.

“It’s a lot more work than you think,” says Santa’s Magic Founder and Chairman Jim Nentwig.

The teams first have to find out who is at the hospital that morning, and then they find the appropriate gift for each person. The patients run the range from young to old and from rich to homeless, so the organization needs to have a wide array of gifts ready to go. That means organizing everything a couple days ahead.

But, the work leading up to the event goes on all year, and it takes many individuals, groups and businesses from around the area, Nentwig says, to pull it all together.

“The knitting groups are huge,” he says. “They make us afghans. This year, we probably had 400 afghans to give out. It’s such a special gift. It’s so personal.”

They do this, he says, out of the goodness of their hearts. One of the knitters, he says, is 96 years old and says making the afghans for Santa’s Magic gives her a reason to live.

Indeed, Nentwig says he finds that people are very happy to help. All they need is to feel that their efforts are for a good cause and that they’re appreciated.

The Santa’s Magic team includes Nentwig’s two sons, retired Boxford Police Officer Thomas Nentwig and Boston Private Bank and Trust Senior Vice President Robert Nentwig, and Boxford resident Michael Brazel.

For the last 10 years, Brigham and Women’s Materials Management Director James McKinnon has helped organize the hospital event.

Providing cheer for staff and patients at Brigham and Women’s is just one of many charitable activities with which Santa’s Magic is involved. For instance, the organization works with local schools to put cards and packages together for servicemen and women deployed overseas.