Jen Lilley is on a mission to spread some Christmas cheer. The Days of Our Lives alum has teamed up with fashion designer Ale Boggiano to donate 20,000 toys to kids in need through Toys for Tots.
They founded Christmas Is Not Cancelled in 2020 to give back during a holiday season marked by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, they’re back for another year, and they’re offering people an even more exciting way to get involved: Christmas University. The 10-week program kicked off Oct. 14 and features fun events like holiday-themed classes and virtual celebrity game nights. Plus, participants have the chance to win prizes, including the Ultimate Christmas package.
Christmas Is Not Cancelled was born during the pandemic, Jen Lilley explained
The origins of Christmas Is Not Cancelled were simple, Lilley explained in an interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. As the pandemic forced people to call off traditional holiday activities, the actor, like many others, felt a sense of dismay.
“My business partner Ale and I were chatting one day and we were saying, ‘Oh, they better not cancel Christmas,’ she said. “And then we were like, ‘That would be a great campaign.’”
Lilley and Boggiano partnered with Toys for Tots, a program run by the U.S. Marine Corps that distributes gifts to kids in need. That dovetailed nicely with a 2020 Christmas movie Lilley had made for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, USS Christmas, which had a military-focused storyline.
The campaign was “wildly successful,” Lilley said. But she thought it would be a “one and done” event. Then artificial tree company Balsam Hill reached out about partnering on a 2021 event. Eventually, the two decided to launch an even more ambitious campaign for this year’s holiday season: 20,000 toys for Toys for Tots, double last year’s goal. Christmas Is Not Cancelled also supports Childhelp, an organization that helps abused, neglected, and at-risk kids.
How to support Christmas Is Not Cancelled
Want to help Christmas Is Not Cancelled hit their goal of giving away 20,000 toys this Christmas? All you have to do is head to their website and purchase a toy bundle, which start at $15. That’s enough to buy one toy for a child. As extra incentive to give, you’ll also get entries in the Christmas Is Not Cancelled sweepstakes.
Drawings happen weekly, and prizes include a GAC Family Christmas movie watching kit, Balsam Hill wreaths, a catered Christmas dinner, gingerbread house kits, FrndlyTV subscriptions, and more. Plus, there’s the grand prize drawing: an ultimate Christmas package including a Balsam Hill tree and decor, tickets to ChristmasCon, and a trip to Disney World.
Christmas University offers virtual classes in all things holiday
Christmas Is Not Cancelled isn’t just about giving toys to kids who might otherwise not receive a gift from Santa. It’s also about building community. Enter Christmas University, which offers virtual classes in all things holiday.
“It’s so fun,” Lilley said. “We meet virtually every single week over a private Zoom … It’s an outlet for all of us to kind of decompress and meet up with each other every week and have fun and kind of escape just the reality of 2021.”
Upcoming classes include tips on making a holiday-themed charcuterie cheeseboard and setting the perfect holiday table. There’s also a “Royally Wrapped” cookie class in honor of Lilley’s upcoming movie for GAC Family, Royally Wrapped for Christmas. It airs Saturday, Nov. 27.
In that movie, Lilley plays a woman named Lindsay Peterson. She’s the director of a charitable organization (founded by the royal family of Veronia) that has the goal of giving every child in the world a Christmas gift.
It’s “bit of a Cinderella story,” Lilley said, who also noted the things she has in common with her character.
“It was pretty amazing that her life kind of parallels mine in that I do have a goal to see every child get a Christmas gift,” she said.
To support Christmas Is Not Cancelled or to sign up for Christmas University, visit ChristmasIsNotCanelled.com.
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