WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — When the Williamstown Community Chest asked the Williamstown Community Preschool for a helping hand, the school was only too happy to oblige.
Many, many times over.
Students at the preschool made a banner of colorful cutouts of all of their hands to give to the Chest to decorate Spring Street storefronts during the Chest's first-ever "Blitz Week," which runs March 15-22.
Those hands, in addition to works of art by students who attend the Williamstown Youth Center's programs, are now helping to get the word out that the Chest is closing in on its annual campaign goal but needs some help to reach it.
And they are making the students feel good, too.
"The kids are really excited to have their art up," said Anne Singleton, the executive director of the Williamstown Community Chest, an 87-year-old agency that raises money to support services provided by 15 member agencies to help people in the community meet a variety of challenges.
Singleton said this is the first year the Chest is trying the "Blitz Week" in an attempt to raise awareness of the member agencies - as well as the last $50,000 of the Chest's $250,000 goal.
"If it goes well, maybe it will become a regular thing," Singleton said. "You have to start somewhere."
And she is starting with a bang. The week kicks off with two free family events on Saturday, March 15: Rosalita's Puppets at the Youth Center at 11 a.m., presented by member agency Child Care of the Berkshires; and a 2 p.m. screening of "National Velvet" at Images Cinema that will feature an introduction by Equus Therapeutic, another member agency.
For the adults on Saturday, there will be an event at Hops and Vines on Water Street from 7 to 9 p.m. featuring "celebrity" bartenders Mike Goodwin and Jim Mahon, the president and vice president of the Chest's board of directors. Their tips will benefit the Chest's annual campaign.
Local businesses are lending their support, too. On Saturday, 10 percent of Goodman's Jewelers sales will go to the Chest, as will 10 percent of The Cottage's sales on Tuesday, March 18, and Ruby Sparks on Wednesday, March 19.
"We feel so fortunate they agreed to do that," Singleton said.
In addition, throughout the week, Willinet will be showing footage of the work of the 15 member agencies, and the Chest will be spotlighted at the Williamstown Chamber Night at The Orchards on Wednesday, March 19. And coming soon to Tunnel City Coffee are special coffee cup sleeves that highlight the Chest's mission.
"We thought that would be another way to get the word out," Singleton said.
And getting the word out - although the biggest challenge of any campaign - may be somewhat easier in the small town of Williamstown, where the community is tight-knit and the Chest knows its friends and neighbors - and their needs.
"We try to keep our ear to the ground," Singleton said. "Being local, we are closely aware of what's going on."
And she should know: Singleton is now in her 19th year of leading the Chest in its mission.
"It's amazing how fast the time has gone," she said.
For more information and to donate to the campaign, visit williamstowncommunitychest.org, where there is also information about how to nominate a local "volunteer of the year," who will be honored at the Chest's annual meeting in May.