Northampton Lions Club carries on toy fund tradition

  • The Northampton Lions Club delivers a $1,500 donation for the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund to Daily Hampshire Gazette Business Office Manager Pat Maleno, right, on Dec. 19. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Northampton Lions Club delivers a $1,500 donation for the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund to Daily Hampshire Gazette Business Office Manager Pat Maleno, right, on Dec. 19. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 12/24/2019 10:35:42 AM

NORTHAMPTON — As part of what’s become a 20-plus year holiday tradition, seven members of the Northampton Lions Club, along with their lion mascot, made a $1,500 donation to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund on Thursday. 

Lions Club members filed into the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Conz Street office in the early morning to present the check in front of a Christmas tree to Pat Maleno, business manager at the newspaper. 

“We love to give back to the community, that’s our main thing,” said Mark Moggio, president of the Northampton Lions Club. 

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. 

Moggio said the Lions Club’s Northampton chapter has been operating since 1936 and it currently has around 40 members. This local chapter is part of the international, secular and non-political service organization focused on raising money for charitable causes. 

Maleno explained that she is “amazed” every year at the amount of money the Toy Fund raises for families with children during the holidays. 

“It’s wonderful that the community just opens up their hearts and gives,” Maleno said. 

Philip Giers, of Haydenville, has been a member of the Lions Club for 34 years. Giers said he thinks it’s important to give back to the community because “a lot of us don’t sit back sometimes and figure out how well off we are compared to other people.”

Holiday gifts are expensive and charitable drives like the Toy Fund help support children whose families might be struggling to make ends meet, Giers said.

“You hate to see kids not have things,” Giers said. “Times are really changing — things are a lot more expensive than they used to be.”

Giving isn’t only something to do during the holidays, Giers said. He said the Lions Club raises money year-round through selling French fries at the Northampton Family Fourth event at Look Memorial Park, as well as through other fundraisers such as its annual Ski and Skate Sale.

Giers noted that any money the Lions Club raises goes back to the community through donations such as the one given to the Toy Fund.

Families eligible for the Toy Fund 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 at Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

Michael Connors can be reached at 

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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