Wreath raffle for kids: Tradition at CareOne in Northampton raises money for Toy Fund

  • Wreaths hang in a hallway at CareOne Senior Care Center on Elm Street in Northampton on Wednesday. The wreaths are donated for a raffle that benefits the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. GAZETTE STAFF/DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

  • A wreath at CareOne Senior Care Center on Elm Street in Northampton on WednesdaY. Many of these unique wreaths are donated to CareOne for a yearly raffle that benefits the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. GAZETTE STAFF/DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

  • A wreath at CareOne Senior Care Center on Elm Street in Northampton on Wednesday. Many of these unique wreaths are donated to CareOne for a yearly raffle that benefits the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. GAZETTE STAFF/DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

  • A wreath at CareOne Senior Care Center on Elm Street in Northampton on Wednesday. Many of these unique wreaths are donated to CareOne for a yearly raffle that benefits the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. GAZETTE STAFF/DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

Staff Writer
Published: 12/11/2019 1:40:56 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Entering the CareOne Senior Care Center on Elm Street, it is difficult to miss the dozens of unique wreaths hanging from the walls.

One is decorated in a Harry Potter theme, complete with the owl Hedwig and a sign for Platform 9 ¾. Another features brightly colored piñata and gift cards to La Veracruzana, the restaurant that donated the wreath.

The wreaths are part of a four-year tradition at CareOne, which invites businesses and community organizations to donate a unique wreath, which the nursing home then raffles for money that goes to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. CareOne community liaison Tricia Gendron said the organization wanted to do a fundraiser that brought people together around a good cause.

“It really brings the community together,” Gendron said of the wreath raffle. “It’s really all about them coming together and helping.”

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.

For the CareOne raffle, local companies, organizations and people volunteer to donate a wreath. The Harry Potter wreath, for example, was created by CareOne maintenance director John Smith. And Berkshire Brewing Company’s wreath features doves cut out from one of the brewery’s packaging and a gift card.

“Some of these wreaths, these businesses have been so generous this year,” Gendron said. “Not only did they decorate the wreaths, but they attached a little monetary donation.”

Gendron noted that the raffle was expanded outside of Northampton this year, with businesses from Easthampton and Williamsburg donating their own wreaths.

The raffle is still ongoing, with members of the community encouraged to come in and purchase raffle tickets for any of the wreaths they might want. CareOne will hold a wreath reception on Tuesday, Dec. 17, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., when they will announce winners. Raffle tickets can be purchased up until that time.

Gendron said the organization raised $1,000 last year and hopes to raise more this year.

“Those funds for that toy fund hit local,” she said. “It is directly hitting and affecting our community.”

In order to be eligible for the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund, families must live in any Hampshire County community except Ware, in the southern Franklin County towns of Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately, Shutesbury and Leverett, and in Holyoke in Hampden County.

18 Degrees Family Services for Western Massachusetts at 59 Interstate Drive in West Springfield 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, 367 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 Department Store, 258 Main St., Greenfield; World Eye Bookshop & Magical Child, 134 Main St., Greenfield; Holyoke Sporting Goods Co. 1584 Dwight St. No. 1, Holyoke; and Children’s Museum at Holyoke, 444 Dwight St., Holyoke.

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.com.

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

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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