EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 30, 2013

Studio 13 donates to Santa Fund in lieu of client gifts

Each Christmas, Bethany Rizkallah and Christine Hale used to give small, token gifts to all of their customers at Studio 13, the hair salon that they co-own in Methuen. But a couple of years ago, they decided that their customers really didn’t need more trinkets and tchotchkes. So instead of giving gifts that were destined to become clutter, Rizkallah and Hale decided to give back to the community. And this year, like last year, they, their customers, and employees are donating to the Santa Fund.

“It goes to a good cause instead of (giving) a flashlight or a pen or a candy bar,” says Rizkallah. “Once you’re into the spirit, it brings everyone else into the spirit.”

With that in mind, the salon has hung a sign at the register that explains to customers what they’re doing.

It reads, in part, “In lieu of Christmas gifts, Studio 13 will be making donations to the Santa Fund,” Rizkallah says. “Together we can make a difference in someone’s holiday.”

The salon encourages its patrons to give what they can, and Rizkallah says that the company matches whatever is donated. She credits one of the stylists, Kelley Medvecky, as the person who first came up with the idea of donating to the Santa Fund.

“We said it was a great idea, and we ran with it,” Rizkallah says.

Studio 13 doesn’t only give charitably during the holidays or only give to the Santa Fund. They also have organized canned food drives and even decorated a Christmas tree with hats and mittens to donate to needy families. And to get customers involved, Studio 13 gave 10 percent off of purchases to people who brought hats and mittens to hang on the tree.

But even though the folks at Studio 13 give all year long and to various charities, Rizkallah says there’s something about the Christmas season that really tugs at their heartstrings when it comes to giving. And with a cause like the Santa Fund, which helps families provide holiday meals and gifts for children, the money that’s donated really helps when and where it’s needed most.

“There are people that just don’t have things you take for granted because they’re struggling,” Rizkallah says. “Every little bit helps. We’re not a big business, but if we can do whatever we can, it’s a nice feeling.”

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