The need for charity is greater this year than ever, even as the technique is adjusted for unprecedented times.
“We have had an association with the Salvation Army and Toy for Joy for many years,” said Rev. Charlotte LaForest, the minister at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Longmeadow.
“In the past, the Salvation Army has done individual gifts with tags to a particular child. This year, the need has shifted from collection and distribution to Christmas-in-a-Box. They asked for us to contribute 1,000 Christmas treats to put in their boxes.”
The 98th Toy for Joy drive is similar to previous campaigns in many ways, and different in others. What hasn’t changed is the mission of delivering Christmas happiness to children in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.
These children may otherwise feel left out of the joy of the holiday for economic or other reasons beyond their control.
The coronavirus pandemic has created the need for new and creative methods of distribution. Salvation Army locations in Springfield, Holyoke and Greenfield will all offer versions of Christmas-in-a-Box, where games, books, toys and treats are packaged for an entire family’s enjoyment.
St. Andrew’s is contributing safe treats such as cakes, cookies or pre-packaged individual items for inclusion in the boxes.
“The church will also participate in putting the boxes together,” LaForest said.
As the campaign hits full speed, donors are urged to make their contributions by mail or online. Donations to Toy for Joy may be made online at give.salvationarmy.org/give/212002.
They can also be mailed with the coupon that accompanies this story to The Republican, 1860 Main Street, Springfield, Mass. 01101. Early donations are encouraged.
Recognizable by its impressive and imposing structure on Longmeadow Street, St. Andrew’s Church will make its contribution of treats through its mission budget, rather than through collections.
“It just made sense to be able to buy (items) in bulk this way,” LaForest said.
The Salvation Army collaborates with The Republican, El Pueblo Latino and MassLive to present the annual Toy for Joy campaign. The campaign is joined by media partners at Reminders Publishing and The Westfield News.
Community partners include Pride Stores and Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi. Pride Stores will be asking customers at its Western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut locations to help contribute to Toy for Joy by going to any Pride in the area and purchasing a $1, $5 or $10 donation card.
The goal is to reach $150,000 by Christmas Day. Contributions are tax deductible. Donors should keep their email donation receipt as their official record. It will be sent upon successful completion of the donation.