Toy Fund: Local company and its staff sustain longtime tradition of giving

Monday, December 18, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Florence Casket Co. President Bill Hogan doesn’t know when the tradition of donating to a local toy fund began, but he knows who began it.

“My grandfather started it years ago,” Hogan said.

The Florence Casket Co. has been in existence since 1873, and owned by Hogan’s family since the 1950s. Each year, the company asks its employees for voluntary donations to the Gazette’s Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

“Everybody, believe it or not, donates something,” Hogan said. The company has had practically 100 percent participation from its employees each year it has made its request.

The Florence Casket Co. matches its employees’ donation. This year, the company and its employees donated a total of $1,810 to the fund.

“It makes me proud,” said Hogan, about the company and its employees’ generosity.

The Toy Fund is the only charity that the company asks its employees to contribute to. Hogan said it was chosen because the fund is local, and he noted the worthiness of helping others at Christmastime.

Named after a former business manager at the Gazette, the toy fund began in 1933 to help families in need during the Depression. Today, the fund distributes $40 vouchers to families for each child ages 1 to 14. Eligible families must live in any Hampshire County community except Ware, or in the southern Franklin County towns of Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately, Shutesbury and Leverett.

The Toy Fund certificates are redeemable at participating local retailers to eligible families who can use them to buy holiday gifts at participating stores through Dec. 31.

The following stores are participating this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl St., Northampton; JCPenney, 341 Russell St., Hadley (store only); The Toy Box, 201 N. Pleasant St., Amherst; Target, 367 Russell St. Hadley (store only); Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, 227 Russell St., Hadley; Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., Village Commons, South Hadley; Wilson’s Dept. Store, 258 Main St., Greenfield; World Eye Bookshop/Magical Child, 134 Main St., Greenfield.

In 2016 the Toy Fund distributed $56,925 through more than 1,400 vouchers.

Donations to the Toy Fund may be dropped off at or mailed to the Daily Hampshire Gazette at 115 Conz St. in Northampton, 01060, or made online through Gazettenet at toyfund.gazettenet.com. Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.