×

Toy Fund: Give when you can; others may help you some day

  • Tammy Boutwell, right, with her father, Robert Greene. Greene passed away in 2016, and Boutwell now gives to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund in his honor. SUBMITTED PHOTO



@dustyc123
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

CHESTERFIELD — When Tammy Boutwell picked up a copy of the Daily Hampshire Gazette last year, a profile of her uncle and father really struck a chord. 

Boutwell’s father, Robert Greene, would work all sorts of odd jobs to make sure his younger brothers and sisters had a toy for Christmas. Money was tight in their home in the 1950s. Greene would do things like pick berries and gather golf balls for extra money so that he could give his siblings gifts.

“He would always make sure there was a toy for me,” Boutwell’s uncle Richard said of his brother. Eventually, Greene’s giving expanded to the Gazette’s Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund, to make sure that other children could have a memorable Christmas. 

Boutwell and her husband have known what it means to hit tough times, too. Both work in the construction industry, and after the 2008 financial crisis they struggled a bit to make sure their daughter had Christmas presents.

“There were a few years that were very hard for us to provide for her,” Boutwell told the Gazette. “She understood that it was not a good year, and there were a couple Christmases like that. … We did what we could.”

That’s no longer the case, but when Boutwell decided to donate to the toy fund this year, all of those things were on her mind.

“It makes me feel good because you never know, I could be that person who needs it,” she said. “Give back to those who need it, because it could be you in return.”

Her donation this year was made in memory of her father, who died in April 2016 at 72. Last year, Boutwell’s uncle Richard donated in Greene’s memory, starting what Boutwell hopes will continue to be a family tradition.

“I just wanted to carry it on for him,” Boutwell said. “It meant a lot to them, and so it means a lot to me now.”

The Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund provides certificates redeemable at participating local retailers to eligible families who can use them to buy holiday gifts at participating stores through Dec. 31, 2017.

Named after a former business manager at the Gazette, the 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.