Giving back: Northampton Police Relief Association continues its tradition of Toy Fund donations

Sidney F. Smith, ca. 1962.

Sidney F. Smith, ca. 1962.

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 12-01-2023 1:11 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Every year, the Northampton Police Relief Association gives back to the community in a variety of ways, including through the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

The association, which has been in operation for more than 25 years, annually raises funds in partnership with TCI America out of Seekonk via a telemarketing campaign on the department’s behalf, as police are not allowed to solicit donations themselves.

According to Steve Digiammo, the officer who leads the relief association for the Northampton PD, the organization gives about $15,000 on average each year to about 35 different organizations across Northampton, including Manna Community Kitchen, the Northampton Survival Center and the Toy Fund, to which it gave $500 this year.

“All the money we get in, we give back to the community,” Digiammo said.

The police department’s relief association, which includes full-time, special and retired officers, has a long history with the NPD. Established in 1905 — 21 years after the department was founded — the association originally promoted the interests of its members and provided assistance when they were in need.

At the time, there was a greater need to help officers who were killed or injured in the line of duty. Today, with the advent of injured on duty and line of duty death benefits, the association plays a greater charitable role, according to the group’s website.

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In the past, those who donated to the relief association’s fundraiser were given a small gift as thanks, such as tickets to a comedy show at the Hadley Farms Meeting House. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, such in-person events were no longer available, and donors were instead given items such as a public safety guide on how to prevent identity theft.

But Digiammo said that he hopes next year for in-person events to return as gifts for donors.

“The comedy shows feature national comedians, and they’re put on by TCI,” he said. “We’re hoping to do that again.”

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 $50 to qualifying families for each child from age 1 to 14.

To be eligible for the Toy Fund, 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.

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; High Five Books, 141 N. Main St., Florence; The Toy Box, 201 N. Pleasant St., Amherst; Comics N More, 64 Cottage St., Easthampton; 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., and 1584 Dwight St. No. 1, Holyoke.