For a lot of us, the holiday season is one of joy, a chance to wind down the year spending time with friends and family and enjoying the fun of sharing gifts with each other. For many, though, the holidays are stressful, as they just don’t have enough money to buy even the smallest of gifts when they are struggling just to find a warm place to sleep. Fortunately, for the eighth consecutive year, poker pro and personality Bernard Lee brought some holiday cheer to 41 Boston-area families battling homelessness, working with FamilyAid on a huge gift-giving drive.

Sponsored by Lee’s Full House Charity Program and the One Step Closer Foundation, Lee provided customized gifts to everyone in each family, including 67 children.

“This is a challenging time of year for parents and children experiencing homelessness,” said Larry Seamans, FamilyAid Boston’s president, in a press release. “The parents we work with are saving every penny for housing and can’t provide their children with any kind of holiday. Their children are stressed with their need for a home, and won’t even consider asking for something they might simply wish for or want like a simple toy. Bernard and his family are giving our families the gift of joy and celebration during what can be an otherwise stressful time.”

Since founding Full House in February 2011, Lee has been able to contribute more than $100,000 to “children-focused organizations” in New England. That’s more than 275 families and 500 children.

There are loads of programs that help out families in need with gifts at the holidays, which is wonderful, but Bernard Lee’s program is interesting to me in that rather than just collecting a bunch of basketballs, Barbie dolls, and remote control cars (which are cool, don’t get me wrong) and passing them out, Lee and his kids collected wish lists from the families and children and distributed personalized gifts to everybody. Every mother also got a personalized duffle bag and winter coat.

“My family and I really look forward to this time of year, and we truly love having the privilege of partnering with great organizations like FamilyAid Boston and One Step Closer Foundation to bring some joy to New England families during the holiday season,” said Lee. “This year, we had a few surprises in store for both the parents and the kids, such as celebrity-autographed sports paraphernalia and specially-requested toys for individual kids. My family and I always look forward to this event, and we love seeing the kids’ faces when they open their gifts.”

FamilyAid Boston assists homeless families in not just finding affordable housing, but helping them come up with solutions to maintain that housing and prevent future homelessness. The One Step Closer Foundation is unrelated, working to make lives better for those suffering from cerebral palsy.

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