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Toy Fund: A lion’s share for the holidays

  • Pat Maleno, director of human resources at the Gazette, the Recorder, and the Valley Advocate, second from left, accepts a $1,500 check to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund from the Northampton Lions Club represented by Mark Moggio, left, Meghan McCormick, Matt Peterson as the lion, Laurie Boudreau, Patrick Diggins and Rodney Kunath Dec. 20, 2017 at the Gazette in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



@ecutts_HG
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A lion walks into a newsroom, but rather than roar, he brings an oversized check.

That was the scene Wednesday morning at the Daily Hampshire Gazette as members of the Northampton Lions Club paused at the paper’s entrance to hand over a $1,500 check for the Gazette’s Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. More than a half dozen members of the international secular, non-political service organization were on hand to discuss the annual donation and the work the group does as part of its community giving mission.

“It’s the season of giving,” said club president Meghan McCormick.

The Northampton Lions Club gives on three levels — internationally, nationally and locally — and does community service projects like Adopt-A-Highway and eyeglass recycling. Recently, the club gave a $2,000 check to the Cancer Connection. Joe Wilhelm, a club member, said the organization is not the only donor for groups that receive Lions Club funds, but those who receive the donations are grateful for the help.

That is the case, too, with the club’s donation to the Gazette’s Toy Fund as the club joins the hundreds of other donors who have given some of their own money to help local families in need.

With a donation that size, about 37 certificates are made possible and are redeemable at participating local retailers to eligible families, who can use them to buy holiday gifts at participating stores through Dec. 31.

To fund the donation and others like it, the club holds annual fundraisers including an annual Ski & Skate Sale and a $100 raffle, according to club treasurer Mark Moggio.

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. 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.

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.

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.