Editorial: Thanks for giving

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

Published: 11/25/2020 3:53:45 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed … everything. And how we celebrate the holidays is no exception. This year, the best way we can show our love to family members and friends outside our bubbles is to stay apart, until it’s safe to be together again.

Since March, the Gazette has chronicled how the novel coronavirus has upended life as we knew it in Hampshire County and Holyoke. But along with the dark times, we’ve also seen bright spots — big-hearted generosity from neighbor to neighbor and sometimes stranger to stranger. We think of this time of year as the season of giving, but people have been giving for months. Some have given the gift of time and ingenuity (thank you, teachers and school staff), while others have given donations of food or funds.

This winter, we hope you’ll also consider giving to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund, now in its 88th consecutive year at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The fund provides vouchers to area families with children who otherwise would go without new toys during the holidays.

The Toy Fund’s history dates back to 1933 when it was established by Sidney F. Smith, then the Gazette’s business manager, to help families in need during the Depression.

Today, the fund distributes vouchers worth $40 to families for each child from ages 1 to 14. Eligible families must live in any Hampshire County community except Ware; in the southern Franklin County towns of Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately, Shutesbury or Leverett; or in Holyoke in Hampden County.

Every year, our community steps up to help. The Toy Fund collected $55,000 for last year’s drive and provided 1,400 vouchers to local families in need. Still, donations declined sharply from the previous year, and donations have been on a slight downward trend for the past few years.

We’re asking those readers who have the means to do so to give more this holiday season. Donors often give in memory of a beloved family member or friend and share their memories and anecdotes along with the donation. Over the years, the Gazette has spotlighted many of those stories, as we will do this year, in tandem with the drive.

“We are proud to continue to host this initiative, especially in light of the pandemic-related challenges our families face each day,” said Michael Moses, publisher of Newspaper of New England’s Massachusetts publications. “Its success is a testament to the giving nature of our readers, our advertisers and the communities we serve.”

The following stores are accepting the vouchers this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Blue Marble/Little Blue, 150 Main St., Level 1, Northampton: Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl St., 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; 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 & Magical Child Toy Store, 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, Mass. 01061, or made online at gazettenet.com. Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

What we’re thankful for

Throughout the pandemic, our newsroom continues to work together from a distance. We asked staff what they’re grateful for this season, and the responses really run the gamut.

Greta Jochem, staff writer: “I’m thankful my broken leg has healed and I’m able to walk and hike again. I’m also thankful to live in such a beautiful area with access to nature, which is always a benefit but especially so during the pandemic.”

Bera Dunau, staff writer: “I’m thankful for my family and the traditions and places that help to bind us together.”

Dusty Christensen, staff writer: “I’m thankful for the mutual-aid organizations trying to plug the growing holes in our social safety net, and for the family, friends and colleagues who have shared solidarity during an impossibly anxious eight months.”

Carol Lollis, photo editor: “I am thankful for whoever invented card games, Pitch in particular.”

Brenda Nelson, newsroom clerk: “I am thankful that during a pandemic, I am able to work remotely.”

Mike Connors, former staff writer: “I’m thankful for my mother, father and sister because I know I can always rely on them to support me.”

Brooke Hauser, editor in chief: “Last week, my parents moved from Miami to Sarasota, Florida, meaning I no longer have a home in my native city. I’ve been feeling some intense homesickness recently, but I’m grateful for all my years in Miami, which were formative in so many ways. And I’m grateful for my children, who, when they saw me tearing up, tried to comfort me. ‘Family is more important than house,’ my son said. ‘As long as you’re with family, you’ll be home.’”

Steve Pfarrer, staff writer: “I’m thankful that my family and I and my friends have been safe all through this bizarre time. I’m also grateful I live in a beautiful part of the country that offers great access to the outdoors — lots of bicycling spring through fall kept me sane (though winter will be more of a challenge).”

Nicole Chotain, designer: “I am grateful to be working with such a talented and dedicated team of professionals.”

Chris Goudreau, staff writer: “After spending most of the year with a damaged eardrum, I’m thankful for my returning health when it comes to my sense of hearing. I think it’s easy to take your own health for granted. I definitely did. If 2020 has taught us anything collectively, it’s that health and well-being are precious things that you don’t really miss until they’re gone.”

Blaise Majkowski, page designer: “I am grateful my three favorite bands, Blue Oyster Cult, Sparks, and 999 all came out with new CDs this year! I know it is not much in the large scheme of things, but it is the little things that help you get through these tough days ahead.”

James Pentland, editor: “I’m thankful for sensible family, silly friends and work that’s considered essential in these crazy times.”

Chad Cain, editor: “I’m thankful for technology that enables me to stay in touch with extended family during a tough time and, yes, even video games for my kids, which are admittedly addicting but have allowed them to stay connected to their friends in a safe way.”

Ken Heidel, news and Amherst Bulletin editor: “I’m mostly thankful for being lucky. Lucky our families and friends are safe and sound; lucky to have our health; lucky to be working (and from home) with a seriously talented and motivated cadre of professionals. Lucky, also, to have the internet and a stable food supply. We are grateful. Blessings, all!” 




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