Lily Boyajian: The true meaning of the holiday season


Credit: Courtesy of Lily Boyajian

The three Boyajian sisters (left to right), freshman Julianna Boyajian, junior Bella Boyajian and senior Lily Boyajian stand with their gifts they collected for the Department of Children and Families holiday party. The Boyajian family has always had an interest in helping less fortunate children receive gifts when they wake up on Christmas morning. “By collecting toys it could allow them to have a normal Christmas if their families aren’t able to afford any gifts,” Lily Boyajian said.

Running down the stairs, seeing all the presents under the tree and ripping wrapping paper apart is something that many kids look forward to during the holiday season. Unfortunately, far too many children have a much different Christmas experience.

Senior Lily Boyajian and her family have made it their goal to provide underprivileged children with a Christmas experience that they believe all students should have.

“We started doing this because my family is passionate about helping kids in the foster system,” Lily Boyajian said. “By collecting toys, it could allow them to have the Christmas [they desire] if their families aren’t able to afford any gifts.”

The toy drive that the Boyajians participate in is run by the organization Wonderfund. The Wonderfund Holiday Gift Drive provides 53,000 children, who are part of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, with gifts for the holiday season.

“We collect toys for local foster children up to the age of eighteen and their families,” Lily Boyajian said. “My mom came up with the idea last year, and this is now our second year running the drive.”

The Boyajian family has always had an interest in helping underprivileged children. They decided to host foster children, something that is an unprecedented next step in helping underprivileged children for many communities.

“We have a lot of experience with foster children,” Lily Boyajian said. “My family fostered children for two years, and throughout that time, we took in 22 kids.”

The holiday season is a time for giving back to the community and helping those who are in need. Boyajian and her family provide an example of how much of an impact others can make on less fortunate communities.

“It makes me feel extremely lucky with the family situation I have, and although we aren’t able to see the children who are receiving these gifts that people are generous enough to donate, picturing them smiling on Christmas morning makes me happy,” Lily Boyajian said.

The Wonderfund organization was recreated by the commonwealth’s first lady, Lauren Baker. There are 29 DCF distribution centers scattered across Massachusetts where people can drop off their toys that they have collected. For the Boyajians, that distribution center is in Framingham, where they drop off the toys once the drive is over.

“We run the annual toy drive for local foster kids that we deliver to, the Department of Children and Families Framingham office, for the holidays,” Lily Boyajian’s mom Stacia Boyajian said.

As a way to get the community of Wayland involved, the Boyajians reached out to local businesses in town to see if they would be willing to help out.

“We ask local businesses to partner with us as drop off locations,” Stacia Boyajian said. “They spread the word to their clients, which is super helpful.”

The process for delivery isn’t as easy as it might seem. The Boyajians have to do a lot of behind the scenes work to make sure that each child gets a gift on Christmas morning.

“We pick up the toys from the businesses, keep them at our house then bag them up and arrange by age and category and then deliver in time for the Department of Children and Families holiday party,” Stacia Boyajian said.

The Boyajian’s goal this year was to beat the amount of gifts they collected in the previous year. Thanks to the generosity of donors this year and the Boyajians fundraising efforts, they managed to exceed the amount that they had last year.

A load of toys is packed before it is sent off to the Department of Children and Families. This year, the Boyajian’s collected 600 toys which filled four car loads. “It is a way to stay involved and help less fortunate kids during the holiday season,” Stacia Boyajian said. (Credit: Courtesy of Lily Boyajian)

“After we stopped fostering, [the toy drive] was a way to stay involved and help provide gifts to children in care,” Stacia Boyajian said. “It feels really great to be able to help kids have a magical Christmas. This is really what the holiday season is all about.”