21 Jul

Amica Downtown Jingle 5K

We are very excited to announce that we will be participating in this year’s Amica Mutual Insurance Co. Downtown Jingle 5k!

Amica Downtown Jingle 5K

Come join us at this year’s Rhode Island Jingle 5k Run/Walk in downtown Providence Rhode Island. Enjoy the comforts of the Rhode Island Convention Center before and after the 5k. Live band will be entertaining before and after the run. And you might even get to meet the big guy in red himself!

Race Overview

Date: Sunday, December 1, 2019
Start: 9:00 AM, Kids Run 8:30 AM
Start Location: Rhode Island Convention Center


15 Oct

Rhode Island Santa Claus

Letters to Santa Claus

Rhode Island Santa Claus received hundreds of letters from children

For years, children all over the world have been sending letters to Santa Claus. During the 1950s through the 1980s many of those letters were delivered to Jim Rielly’s house in Bristol Rhode Island.

Over the years the post office delivered hundreds of letters to Jim’s home. And in true Santa Claus style, Jim would reply to each and every one.

11 Sep

4 Ways to Thank a First Responder on September 11

September 11, 2001

Today, on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, we honor our police, firefighters, EMTs, and all those who serve and have served in our armed forces. Day in and day out, these brave men and women put their lives on the line to keep us safe. But what makes these folks even more special, is that they go to work for their communities’ every day without expecting recognition.

We believe that September 11 is the perfect day to show them our gratitude for their service. Here are four ways you can thank the first responders and military personnel in your community.

4 Ways You Can Say Thank You To Our First Responders on September 11

When you see a firefighter, police officer, EMT, or military personnel, thank them. It doesn’t have to be a long speech. Something as simple as “Thank you for your service” will go a long way at showing them that you appreciate them.

One of the most powerful ways you can thank our first responders is to put it in writing. Send a hand-written card or letter to a local police or fire station. If you want to make a bigger impression, gather several letters and cards from the community and deliver them personally. You would be surprised the power of writing a simple “thank you” card has.

Maybe they are sitting at a table across from you at a restaurant, or behind you in line at the grocery store, or the drive-thru. Consider paying for them. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big impact.

You can show your support by donating to or supporting organizations whose purpose is to support first responders, military personnel and their families.

First responders and military personnel serve our communities daily and do so without expecting any gratitude. While we encourage everyone to appreciate what these individuals do each day, please take a moment on this anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, to recognize the men and women who continually and tirelessly serve to keep us safe.

11 Jul

James D. Rielly Foundation Announces First Annual Christmas in July Brunch and Charity Toy Drive

Christmas in July Brunch

Christmas in July toy drive to benefit children and families of veterans, active military, first responders, and others in need.

Providence, RI USA July 9, 2018 — The James D. Rielly Foundation in conjunction with Skyline at Waterplace will be hosting a Christmas in July Brunch and Charity Toy Drive to support those in need. The event will take place at Skyline at Waterplace on Sunday, July 29 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Tickets are $30 and include brunch buffet, free valet parking, and free pictures with Santa Claus.

The organizers ask attendees to please bring a new, unwrapped toy. Toys collected will be distributed to local families in need through the James D. Rielly Foundation. For many, this will be their only gift this holiday season. Members of the James D. Rielly Foundation will also be on-site if attendees wish to make a financial donation or give a gift card instead of a toy.

“Our mission is simple: To spread Christmas cheer throughout the year”, stated Michael Rielly, president and chief merriment officer at James D. Rielly Foundation, Inc. “The James D. Rielly Foundation works year-round to provide charitable and emotional support to the children and families of veterans, active military, first responders, and others in need in our community”.

“We are so happy to support the James D. Rielly Foundation with our Christmas in July Brunch,” said Michael Mota, CEO at Skyline at Waterplace. “Together we can help lift the spirits of those most in-need”.

Sunday, July 29, 2018
11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Skyline at Waterplace
1 Finance Way, Providence RI 02903

Seating is limited. To reserve a ticket, please visit Eventbrite:

About James D. Rielly Foundation, Inc.
Founded in 2017 by Michael Rielly, the James D. Rielly Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer corporation, funded entirely by private donations. The James D. Rielly Foundation provides charitable and emotional support to the children and families of military and first responders hindered by economic status, physical or mental challenges. To learn more, visit: www.jdrfoundation.org. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

24 Jun

Christmas in July Brunch Fundraiser and Toy Drive

Christmas in July Brunch

Join us for Christmas in July!

We invite you to join us for our Christmas in July Brunch Fundraiser and Toy Drive. This event is presented by Skyline at Waterplace and helps the James D. Rielly Foundation’s mission to support the children and families of military personnel and first responders hindered by economic status, physical or mental challenges.

DATE: Sunday, July 29, 2018

TIME: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM Skyline at Waterplace 1 Finance Way, Providence, RI 02903

TICKETS: Tickets are only $30 and include:

  • Brunch Buffet
  • Free Valet Parking
  • Free pictures with Santa Claus!

Please bring a new, unwrapped toy. Toys collected will be distributed to local families in need through the James D. Rielly Foundation.

[fruitful_btn link = “https://www.eventbrite.com/e/christmas-in-july-brunch-tickets-46212173856″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener””]PURCHASE TICKETS[/fruitful_btn]

For more information about this event or how you can help support the work of the James D. Rielly Foundation, please contact us.

07 May

It is the veteran

It is the veteran

It is the veteran, not the preacher,
who has given you freedom of religion.

It is the veteran, not the reporter,
who has given you freedom of the press.

It is the veteran, not the poet,
who has given you freedom of speech.

It is the veteran, not the protester,
who has given you freedom to assemble.

It is the veteran, not the lawyer,
who has given you the right to a fair trial.

It is the veteran, not the politician,
who has given you the right to vote.

It is the veteran,
who salutes the Flag,
who serves under the Flag,
whose coffin is draped by the Flag.

01 May

Happy Birthday Santa!

James D. Rielly

Today is the 110 year anniversary of Jim Rielly’s birthday. Born in 1908, James (Jim) D. Rielly was a lifelong resident of Bristol Rhode Island. His love for country and community was immediately evident when you met him. In many ways, he was Bristol’s unofficial Ambassador. To paraphrase Yeats: There were no strangers to Jim Rielly; only friends he had not yet met.

Jim Rielly was well known throughout Rhode Island and much of New England for his generosity and countless charitable acts; but most notably, Jim Rielly was known as Rhode Island’s most famous Santa Claus.

His first appearance as Santa Claus was in 1927 at the beginning of the Great Depression. At the age of 19, the young Jim Rielly portrayed Santa Claus for a family living in an abandoned chicken coup. For the next 62 years, Jim Rielly would continue to appear as Santa Claus wherever he was needed, but primarily at charitable events, nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages, military bases, and private homes.

He took no payment for any of his appearances.

On January 31, 1979 he was entered into the United States Senate Congressional Record as “James D. Rielly – A truly remarkable Santa Claus from Rhode Island”. And on December 22, 2010, he was one of the inaugural inductees into the prestigious International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.

James D. Rielly died on November 26, 1991 at the age of 83.

In honor of his kindness and charitable works, the James D. Rielly Foundation was established to preserve his legacy by providing charitable support to the children and the families of military and first responders hindered by economic status, physical or mental challenges.

Please consider making a donation to the James D. Rielly Foundation. Your donation is 100% tax deductible and will help bring unconditional love, hope, and joy to needy children and families.

27 Apr

April 27, 1972 – James D. Rielly Awarded Citation

James D Rielly Awarded Citation

Throughout his career, Jim Rielly received numerous letters of recognition from celebrities and dignitaries. We came across this announcement in the archives of the Bristol Phoenix. From the April 27, 1972 issue of the Bristol Phoenix.

James D. Rielly Awarded Citation
James D. Rielly well known for his roles as Santa Claus and Charlie Weaver was the recipient of an official citation from the Rhode Island House of Representatives last week.

The citation, proposed by Rep Gaetano Parella, and signed by the Speaker of House and the Secretary of State, offers sincere congratulations to Mr. Rielly and is awarded “in recognition of his bringing joy and laughter to the sick, retarded and elderly.

15 Mar

What is the meaning behind the James D. Rielly Foundation logo?

James D. Rielly Foundation

The “mark” in the James D. Rielly Foundation logo is a four leaf clover. According to Irish folklore, the four leaves of the clover represent: hope, faith, love, and luck.

James D. Rielly Foundation mark

The clover represents the immense pride Jim Rielly had for his Irish heritage. Jim would often jokingly refer to himself as the Visible President of the Leprechauns.

The shade of green in the clover is the same green in the flag of Ireland.

Each leaf in the clover is in the shape of a heart. The single red leaf (or heart) represents the love Jim Rielly had for his country, the community, and the less fortunate.

The red also symbolizes Jim Rielly’s role as Santa Claus and his love for all children.


Lastly, the single red leaf among the three green leaves, represents Michael Rielly’s Italian and Irish heritage and the continuing of his grandfather’s legacy as Santa Claus.

11 Mar

The Gift This of Santa: Himself

As we continue to go through our archives of past news articles on Jim Rielly, we will post them here. Yesterday, we came across this article from a December 1957 issue of the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

Providence Journal-Bulletin

The Real Santa in Bristol County is (ssshhhh) James D. Rielly

To become Santa Claus takes more than a white beard, red suit and sack full of gifts; the real Santa Chars must have an honest love for his fellow men. In Bristol you will find a real Santa Claus.

About 30 years ago, James D. Rielly stuffed his first pair of red trousers with the pillows to acquire the portliness of Santa. Time and appetite have eliminated the need for pillows, but the month of December still finds Mr. Rielly standing in red trousers.

Mr. Rielly buys very few of the gifts he passes out during the Christmas season. The real Santa Claus depends on others to provide the gift-wrapped parcels that are found beneath the Christmas tree. All Jim Rielly provides is that unnamed thing that helps an oldtimer recall a warm and happy memory of times past, or the nervous smile of delight that floods a youngster’s face when confronted by Santa Claus.

This is what the real Santa Claus gives at Christmas-time. Jim Rielly gives of himself at Christmas. The sack slung over his shoulder is always overflowing with good cheer. Whether he is stopping at a lonely lighthouse or at a party for shut-ins or at a children’s party, his eyes twinkle brightly as he peers over the tops of his silver rimmed spectacles.

His suit was tailored by a friend; his boots, spectacles and even the fur trim that edges his jacket were gifts. His beard was a Christmas present from his wife.

When asked why, Jim Rielly will tell you he becomes Santa Claus at Christmastime because it is the best thing he can give. You won’t find Jim Rielly enthroned in a department store, but you will find a Jim Rielly in the true spirit of Christmas.

For Jim Rielly gives the best thing he can at Christmas. He gives himself.

What are your memories of Jim Rielly? Please share them. We would love to hear from you!

01 Mar

Found: A 700-Year-Old Ring Adorned With St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas ring
During the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for wearers to don multiple rings, each signaling a different aspect of identity, from social class to political affiliation.

Last month, Dekel Ben-Shitrit, a 26-year-old gardener, found a 700-year-old bronze ring bearing an engraved image of St. Nicholas. The ring was studied by Dr. Yana Tchekhanovetz, an expert in Byzantine history at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“This special ring is amazingly well preserved and will contribute a great deal to science,” she explained, in a statement. “On the ring is the image of a bald man with a staff next to him. On preliminary examination, this seems to be St. Nicholas holding a bishop’s crook – his hallmark.”

Christian pilgrims to the Land of Israel from all over the Byzantine Empire (Turkey, the Balkans, Greece and present-day Russia) would carry his icon to protect them from harm. It is probable that the ring belonged to a pilgrim who sought the protection of St. Nicholas on his travels.

07 Feb

Local St. Nick Asks Bristolians Play Host to GIs

We found this while going through the archives at the Bristol Phoenix. From the December 9, 1952 edition of the Bristol Phoenix:

For servicemen away from home at Christmas, James D. Rielly today made an appeal. He would like to see Bristol families who will have an empty place at their Christmas table, invite some lonesome servicemen and make him feel at home although he may be miles away from it.
Bristol Phoenix

We continue Jim Rielly’s work today by working closely with local veterans and military family support groups in our community.

Learn more about our foundation and how you can help!