Toy Fund: Daughter marks her dad’s 100th with donation

  • Jane Laskey donated to the Toy Fund in honor of her father, Joel’s, 100th birthday. Submitted photo

  • Jane Laskey donated to the Toy Fund in honor of her father, Joel’s, 100th birthday. Submitted photo

Published: 12/13/2017 8:12:04 PM

AMHERST — Joel Laskey turns 100 this month, still plays golf on a regular basis and just renewed his driver’s license for another eight years.

“He’s got no health problems; he walks with a lively step,” said his daughter, Jane Laskey, 68, of Amherst.

He’s also an inspiration to friends and family, and is the reason why Laskey decided to honor her father’s 100th birthday with a donation this year to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.

The Toy Fund provides certificates redeemable at participating local retailers to eligible families who can use them to buy holiday gifts at participating stores through the end of the year.

Although Joel’s birthday is on Dec. 28, the family held a big party for him last month at the Lawrance Country Club in New York where he lives. Joel had family from all over come, including a friend from Norway who lived with the family as an exchange student when Jane was in high school.

In lieu of gifts, guests were told to share a memory or joke, because Joel loves to laugh, Jane said.

Jane said her father was an officer in World War II and worked for a family business, a payroll tax service before computers. He retired decades ago.

“Computers were putting them out of business,” she said.

As for the secret to longevity, Jane said it must be genes, or possibly Joel’s denial of anything negative.

“He doesn’t believe in death,” Jane said.

Laskey has been donating to the Toy Fund for 30 years. For many of those years, she donated in honor of her son Jesse Turcotte, who would donate some of his allowance and Jane would pitch in twice the amount. They’d donate every year from when Jesse was 8 up until high school.

Named after a former business manager at the Gazette, the 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.

Berkshire Children & Families at 220 Russell St., Suite 200 in Hadley, MA 01035, verifies families’ eligibility and the Gazette covers costs associated with the drive, freeing all donations to fund the vouchers.

The following stores are participating this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl 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; World Eye Bookshop/Magical Child, 134 Main St., Greenfield.

Donations to the 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

Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.


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