Donations honor hard-working mom, toy fund mission

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

Staff Writer
Published: 11/30/2020 3:41:35 PM

NORTHAMPTON — On one of the last Christmas shopping trips on which she accompanied her mother, Jane Nagle remembers that Dorothy Nagle bought a toaster for a campaign to get homeless people into their own apartments.

Always thinking of others, Jane Nagle said it’s important to honor her mother, who died at 93 in 2016, with an annual contribution to the Gazette’s Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

"My mother had a generous spirit and a commitment to issues of social justice,” Nagle says. “As a single mother she raised four children to believe that whatever good fortune we had in our lives, we always had a duty to pay it forward.”

In addition, Nagle said her mother worked hard every day of her life, earning the right to sit back and enjoy her accomplishments, but until she died made sure to pay her own good fortune forward.

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, 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.

Though their $100 donation was not made in memory of a loved one or in tribute to anyone this year, Alan and Louise Swider of Florence have made it a point to make a gift every year since they moved to the city in 1979. 

Alan Swider, who grew up in Holyoke, said the Toy Fund seemed like a good idea when they got a subscription to the newspaper. This marks the couple’s 42nd year of making a donation.

“It would be sad to see children without any gift under the tree,” said Swider, a retired manager of the former Franklin Hampshire Career Center in Northampton.

His wife, Louise Swider, is also retired as a teacher at Berkshire Trail Elementary School in Cummington, and both understand from their professional lives the struggles many families and children go through and the critical need the Toy Fund plays.

“It’s important for us that we not forget the Toy Fund,” Swider said.

The following stores are participating 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. #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.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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