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Editorial: A community effort

As of today, the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund has collected and logged $5,176 in donations for the Daily Hampshire Gazette-sponsored effort to put toys or other gifts in the hands of children from families in need this month.

That’s still a far cry from the goal of $80,000, which is what the paper estimates it needs to fulfill its promise to give certificates to eligible families in most Hampshire County communities and five southern Franklin County communities.

But we have faith the money will come, because every year, for the past 80, it has.

When it comes to bang for your charitable buck, this endeavor truly delivers. Every penny raised is turned into vouchers that let qualified families spend $40 at participating area stores for each child in their families from age 1 to 14.

The Gazette and its collaborator in the effort, Berkshire Children and Families, team up to cover all administrative costs of the drive, which means accepting and processing donations and reviewing applications for help.

In fact, not only do these organizations subsidize the effort, employees at both workplaces ante up big time to support it as well.

Every year, the small staff at the Hadley office of Berkshire Children and Families, where volunteers sort through and verify eligibility for the fund, take up a collection to contribute to the effort. Similarly, at the Gazette, a long-standing tradition of an employee-organized raffle of gift items donated by employees generates a hefty donation to the Toy Fund.

This backing, and the support of thousands of people from the Pioneer Valley and beyond, is evidence that over the years the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund has taken its place as a institution with wide and deep community support. That is good, because this is the kind of effort that can’t be done by one organization on its own.

The Toy Fund was launched in 1933 to help when many in the community who were down and out during the Depression. It is named after a former business manager at the paper, Sidney F. Smith, and while it started as a commendable effort to collect and repair old toys to give to local children, it now gives families vouchers to spend at participating stores.

Those shops are A2Z Science and Learning Store, Deals & Steals, Mountain Goat and Faces in Northampton; F.J. Rogers in Florence; JCPenney, and Target in Hadley; The Toy Box in Amherst; Wilson’s Department Store in Greenfield.

Donations to the Toy Fund may be dropped off or mailed to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, 115 Conz St., Northampton, 01060. They are also taken at Gazette offices at 67 Main St., Easthampton, and 9 East Pleasant Street, Amherst, as well as online at toyfund.gazettenet.com.

Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

Today’s total tallies up at $1,200. The list of people who contributed that money, with many entries accompanied by heartfelt dedications, can be found in today’s paper on Page A7.

The list, and those that run in the paper this month, are filled with a crosssection of people, some local residents and some who live elsewhere.

We thank every single one for being part of this community effort and hope their friends and neighbors will not be far behind.

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HADLEY — Every year around the holidays, Mary Lou Spaulding puts an envelope in the break room at Berkshire Children and Families on Russell Street and adds a note inviting employees to slip a donation into the envelope for the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. Last December, when the donations were tallied, the envelope contained $191. Because the contribution arrived … 0

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There are lots of statistics for measuring tough economic times: the unemployment rate, home foreclosures, consumer confidence levels. But a more personal note can be found in the applications of families looking for a little help from the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. Many are portraits of hardship. There are single parents, almost always mothers, who are trying to raise … 0

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