Around the Hamptons: Southampton Lions get toy drive in gear

  • Easthampton Police Department has again loosened its facial hair policy in an effort to raise awareness and money as part of the 8th annual Home Base No Shave campaign. The program is run by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program as a means to raise money and awareness of veterans healing from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. Some members of the department have also purchased camouflaged badges to display while on patrol this month to show support for veterans and their families. —EASTHAMPTON POLICE


Staff Writer
Published: 11/23/2022 7:43:01 PM
Modified: 11/23/2022 7:42:50 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — The season Art Lustenberger looks forward to most has officially launched — the season of giving.

As chairperson of the Southampton Lions Club’s annual Toys for Kids campaign, Lustenberger said the donations and the generosity of people who help put a smile on the faces of children and teens makes this time of year his favorite.

“The Lions Club main focus is on sight-related support to those in need. But this time of the year especially, there are literally hundreds of kids and young teens who wouldn’t have a Christmas if it wasn’t for activities such as ours,” he said. “The need continues to be greater than ever.”

Much as for last year’s event, the Lions Club is collecting new, unwrapped toys for children 12 and under for its 14th annual toy drive in the Southampton branches of both Bank ESB and PNCU, and The Package Store, a shipping business located in the Hampton Ponds Plaza in Westfield.

The organization will also be collecting donations on Saturday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gazebo in the center of town.

For those who cannot or are unwilling to shop because of the COVID pandemic, monetary donations will be accepted and converted to gift cards. To arrange a no-contact pickup, call 413-626-1989.

Lustenberger also noted that the Lions Club will again be partnering with the Southampton Police Department for their “Stuff a Cruiser” event on Saturday, Dec. 10. In the event of  inclement weather, the event will be held on Sunday, Dec. 11.

All of the toys collected will be donated to the Easthampton Community Center, where they are then distributed to local children and families in need.

Last year, the campaign generated more than 1,200 donations of toys and 42 gift certificates of $25 for teenagers. Lustenberger said a local business owner drove his pickup in with 12 bicycles and helmets, and a local youth has raised $1,000 for the past two years in a row and purchases a van full of toys to donate.

“It’s been amazing and heartwarming to meet such generous people as they drop off their donations,” he said.

Rep. Pease at library storytime

Edwards Public Library Youth Librarian Johanna Rodriguez Douglass has announced that state Rep. Kelly Pease, R-Westfield, will be the special guest at the Tuesday, Nov. 29 storytime at the library. The event will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Past guests of the event have included Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, and Southampton Fire Chief John Workman, according to Douglass.

To pre-register, send an email to or call 413-527-9480.

Police ditch razors to support veterans

Easthampton and Southampton police officers have gotten their respective departments into a hairy situation.

Throughout the month of November, residents will see Easthampton and Southampton officers arrive to calls with beards, goatees and mustaches.

The loosened facial hair policy is part of an effort to raise awareness and money as part of the eighth annual Home Base No Shave campaign. The program is run by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital to fund care for veterans and their families suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

Easthampton Police Lt. Dennis Scribner said the department sees the reactions of patrons as an opportunity to discuss the invisible wounds of war. Some members of the department have also purchased camouflage badges to display while on patrol this month to show support for veterans and their families, according to Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti.

“It’s very important to our EPD family to do what we can to raise awareness of the struggles our veterans face, to help our veterans and their families in their time of need, and to give back to those who have selflessly sacrificed, and honorably served our nation,” Scribner said.

Since 2018, Easthampton police have raised $2,950 for Home Base.

Last year, 135 police departments in New England as well as several individuals, companies and sponsors joined the efforts of the organization. To date, the Home Base campaign has raised more than $1.2 million.

Thus far, the department has raised $550. To donate to Easthampton’s efforts, visit

Southampton police have raised $660. To donate to Southampton’s efforts, visit

“Members have been involved (in the program) for approximately six years now,” said Southampton Police Chief Ian Illingsworth. “The department’s participation demonstrates support to military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. All too often officers encounter veterans in crisis and it is important for them to know that they can trust the police and consider cops as another support network for them.”

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