Toy Fund donation recognizes newcomers to America

  • In this July photo, Sudi Jumapili, far left, and Asmani Jumapili, far right, sit with their newly arrived family who are Congolese refugees from a camp in Burundi. The eight are from left to right, Zubeda Mwinibalu with her son Samir Mwinibalu, 5, Kashinda Mitamba, the mother and grandmother, Nyota Jumapili, holding Zubeda's daughter, Saniya Jumapili, 1, Mariam Jumapili, Fatuma Jumapili and her daughter Yusra Jeanne DJumapili, 7 months. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund

Staff Writer
Published: 12/10/2018 10:16:00 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After spending 16 years in a refugee camp in Burundi, brothers Sudi and Asmani Jumapili arrived in Northampton in June, found employment, and have been helping eight other family members settle into life in a new country.

Kathy Goos and Barry Werth, Northampton residents active in a “circle of care” that has been assisting the Jumapili brothers, have seen firsthand the challenges newcomers to America face and the importance of being a welcoming community.

While Goos and Werth have made annual donations to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund, this year’s came with a special message about recognizing “all the people who make their way to the United States for a new beginning.”

“It was about honoring both immigrants and refugees, and all people who are trying to come to this country in this difficult time,” Goos said about the gift.

The Toy Fund began in 1933 to help families in need during the Depression and is named after a former business manager at the Gazette. 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. in Hadley verifies families’ eligibility and the Gazette covers costs associated with the drive, freeing all donations to fund the vouchers.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Jumapilis and their family fled in 2002 and stayed at the Burundi refugee camp, awaiting their turn to be part of the Refugee Resettlement Project, which is run by Catholic Charities.

After a month apart from their family, the other eight members, their mother, Kashinda Mitamba, four sisters, Zubeda, Fatuma, Mariam and Nyota, two nieces and a nephew, touched down at Bradley International Airport.

Werth said he and Goos are part of the circle of care focused on the needs of the two brothers. Sudi Jumapili, who Werth said prefers to be called Jim, is so proficient in English that he is working two jobs, participating in The Literacy Project and aiming to get his GED. His younger brother is employed as a carpenter, Werth said.

Werth said the circle of care has been focused on the employment and education of the brothers, getting them situated and finding ways of integrating them and their family into the larger community.

“We are very devoted to helping them get their feet on the ground,” Werth said.

Those who receive Toy Fund vouchers will be able to use them at the following stores which are participating this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl St., Northampton; Faces, 175 Main 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; and World Eye Bookshop/Magical Child, 134 Main St., Greenfield.

Donations to The Sidney F. Smith 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.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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