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Toy Fund: First-graders do chores at home, collect money for Gazette drive

  • Rita Luce’s first-grade class at the Anne T. Dunphy school poses with their change jar, money earned doing chores around their homes to donate to the annual Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. Pictured from left to right: (bottom row) Kylie Hodges, Lucina Mitchell, Owen Barrios-Wright and Daniel Guiel; (middle row) Anna MacLachlan, Sophie Pompei-Axt, Samantha Black, Damian Pasiut, Lily Cranston and Mila Schaue; (back row) Mason Pedersen, Lydia Williams, Hazel Scully-Henry, Ella Clark, Jude Harder and Maizie Kassel. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Sophie Pompei-Axt, left, Hazel Scully-Henry, center, and Anna MacLachlan, right, pose with the change they helped earn for the Gazette’s annual Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Owen Barrios-Wright, left, and Jude Harder, right, helped raise money for the Gazette’s annual Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund, which they helped collect in a change jar. SUBMITTED PHOTO



Staff Writer
Friday, December 15, 2017

WILLIAMSBURG — First-graders at the Anne T. Dunphy School are working hard to raise money for the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s annual Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. By helping around the house with chores, setting the table, taking out the trash and feeding the dog, the students have raised almost $100 in small change from their parents’ pockets.

“It’s all about being kind to others and doing the right thing,” said Rita Luce, a first-grade teacher leading the effort. “They’ve really embraced that.”

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 vouchers worth $40 to families for each child from age 1 to 14, redeemable at participating local retailers to buy holiday gifts at participating stores through Dec. 31, 2017.

Luce wanted to continue a yearslong tradition started by a recently retired second-grade teacher, Johanna Korpita, of having students raise money for the Toy Fund. As the first-grade class collected money for the Toy Fund, other grades raised money for victims of Hurricane Maria and collected food for a food drive.

“We do a social values curriculum and our topic right now is empathy, so that worked into this,” Luce said.

Luce says the students were encouraged to think about what it might feel like not having toys or food, and then brainstorm ways the class could help those less fortunate. After coming up with a list of household chores they could do for small change, Luce sent letters home to parents explaining the intent of the charity, and why children would be asking to help more around the house.

Six-year-old Hazel Scully-Henry prepared breakfast for her baby brother and set the table for her father’s birthday to raise money for the Toy Fund. She says “helping people” is the best part about participating in the charity.

“I opened some jars and my nanna gave me some help cause I can’t do all the chores yet,” Scully-Henry said.

Friday marked the seventh and final day of the fundraiser. The change jar, taped with a note that reads “We care” will be counted and donated to Toy Fund next week.

Berkshire Children & Families at 220 Russell St., Suite 200 in Hadley, MA 01035, verifies families’ eligibility and the Gazette covers costs associated with the drive, freeing all donations to fund the vouchers. 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 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.

Donations to the Toy Fund may be dropped off at or mailed to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, P.O. Box 299, Northampton, MA, 01061, or made through Gazettenet at www.gazettenet.com. Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com