Helping kids is ‘what we’re all about’: Northampton Lions Club boosts Gazette’s Toy Fund with $1,500 donation

  • 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, in 2019. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Sidney F. Smith, ca. 1962. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2021 8:09:29 PM
Modified: 11/29/2021 8:08:57 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton Lions Club has continued a tradition more than two decades old, donating $1,500 this year to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund to provide holiday gifts for area children in need. 

“We never want any children to go without during the holiday season,” Meghan McCormick, president of the Northampton Lions Club, said. “I think there’s a great need, unfortunately, for that type of support.”

Club members live in Northampton, Hatfield and Williamsburg, and McCormick said it’s important to keep donations local. Contributing to the Toy Fund is “definitely something that we will continue doing,” she said.

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. 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, and in Holyoke in Hampden County.

CSO-The Bridge Family Resource Center at 101 University Drive in Amherst verifies families’ eligibility and the Gazette covers costs associated with the drive, freeing all donations to fund the vouchers, which can be used through Dec. 31. 

The fund raised $82,376 last year, including $1,500 from the Northampton Lions Club. Formed in 1936, the club has contributed more than $1.5 million to charities locally and worldwide.

John Rhodes, a 40-year member and three-time president of the Northampton Lions Club, said the club continues to donate to the Toy Fund each year because “it meets a local need. We like to get bang for our buck.”

“We want to make sure our money stays here,” Rhodes said. “It helps out a lot of kids, and that’s what we’re all about.”

Gazette Business Office Manager Pat Maleno thanked the Lions for their consistent support for the fund, saying the club has made a donation “every year that I’ve been doing this.”

“Year after year, we can count on their support, and we commend them for that,” Maleno said.

The Northampton Lions Club raises money year-round, and 100% of fundraising proceeds are returned to the community, not spent on administrative or other club costs, Rhodes said.

The club’s 61st annual Ski and Skate Sale — which typically raises $20,000-$30,000 — is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School at 80 Locust St.

The club’s annual raffle, usually held in March or April, offers 200 tickets for $100 each. There are 32 cash prizes, including a grand prize of $5,000.

“We write them a check right on the spot so they can leave with their winnings,” Rhodes said. He asked the community to “continue to support us so we can continue to do things like” donate to the Toy Fund.

“We’re constantly doing fundraisers,” McCormick, the club president, said. “We’re always looking for new volunteers to come in and help us run these efforts. We’re always looking for new ways and new suggestions.”

The following stores are accepting Toy Fund vouchers this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Blue Marble/Little Blue, 150 Main St., Level 1, Northampton; High Five Books, 141 N. Main St., Florence; The Toy Box, 201 N. Pleasant St., Amherst; Once Upon A Child,1458 Riverdale St., West Springfield; Plato’s Closet, 1472 Riverdale St., West Springfield; Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, 227 Russell St., Hadley; Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., Village Commons, South Hadley; The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 W. Bay Road, Amherst; World Eye Bookshop, 134 Main St., Greenfield; Holyoke Sporting Goods Co., 1584 Dwight St. No. 1, Holyoke.

Donations to the Toy Fund may be 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.

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