The holidays are right around the corner, and that means it’s the season for giving. On Thursday, Dec. 18, poker pro Bernard Lee donated holiday packages to more than 75 children in the Lawrence, Mass. area as part of The Full House Charity Program, which he’s done for the past four years running.
The charity, which launched in 2011, provides a minimum of $10,000 annually to organizations across New England that focus on needy children, and this year his efforts were co-sponsored by both Chili’s Grill and Bar Restaurants and the Eastern Poker Tour.
“There are few greater joys in life than seeing children smile during the holiday season. This special celebration has become one of my family’s favorite holiday events,” said Lee, who was joined by his son and daughter when distributing the packages. “I created the Full House Charity Program with one goal: to help local families in need. It’s been a truly rewarding and heart-warming experience.”
Lee distributed the packages at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and more than 30 families each received gift certificates to cover the cost of a family meal at Chili’s. In addition, each child received a holiday package that includes winter clothing, books, Sports Illustrated for Kids magazines, board games, sports balls and toys, much of which was donated by the Eastern Poker Tour, a popular bar poker league, and Lee’s fellow RunGoodGear poker pros.
“Bernard Lee’s charity has brought hope and happiness to our groups throughout the years,” said Dr. Jeffrey S. Geller, director of Integrative Medicine and Group Programs. “It’s not just that he is giving this year, it’s his consistency and track record that has made everyone feel special and look forward to the holidays here at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center Wellness Groups.”
Eastern Poker Tour President Glenn McCrory echoed those sentiments: “We are thrilled to partner with Bernard, a long-time member of the EPT family as both a player and commentator for such a great cause. This is our second year in a row that, together, we have been able to make such a positive impact on families. It is astonishing, that some cannot afford something that we all take for granted, a ball or a toy as a present, and with the help of our players we are glad to help that cause.”
For the third year in a row, Lee was able to count on the support of Chili’s, which often partners with non-profits on Give Back Nights, when Chili’s shares 10 percent of the evening’s proceeds to the organization.
“Joining Bernard in his efforts is a way for us to help make the holidays enjoyable for families in Lawrence. This is our third season, and Chili’s appreciates the opportunity to spread some holiday cheer at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center,” said Patrick McClelland, area director of Chili’s-Pepper Dining Inc.
Lee, a Harvard University and Babson College graduate, has more than $2 million in lifetime tournament earnings including a 13th-place finish in the 2005 World Series of Poker and winning the inaugural RunGoodGear main event in March at Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, Oklahoma. Lee is also a well-known poker media personality having hosted The Bernard Lee Poker Show on Rounders Radio and written for numerous outlets over the years.