Northern Berkshire Santa Fund Changes Focus
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. —The Northern Berkshire Santa Fund will be changing its focus from toys to coats this year.
The change is part of a new initiative to look at the year-round needs of the Northern Berkshire community, according to Santa Fund President Tammy Daniels.
"The Santa Fund has been solidifying ties with other community agencies over the last few years in an effort to sustain the program, which has a long history dating back to the days of Sprague Electric of providing toys for children in the community during the holidays,” Daniels said. “We saw that other programs were providing toys but there was a gap in other items, so when we were asked to consider providing coats in October when children need them, we were excited about the opportunity.”
Daniels and other staff at iBerkshires.com took over operation of the Santa Fund several years ago after the closure of the North Adams Transcript, which had run the program for many years. Santa Fund organizers worked with the North Adams WalMart for a couple years; while Wal-Mart was extremely generous with its time and money in helping with the transition, the logistics were difficult for a small, volunteer organization. More recently, Santa Fund volunteers had purchased and distributed toys to families at the holidays.
But now, starting this year, the Santa Fund will focus on distributing warm winter coats at the end of October, before the cold weather really sets in. This is a partnership with Northern Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Community Action Council and the Rotary Club of North Adams.
The program will work with Operation Warm, a national organization that creates its own line of brand new winter coats. Operation Warm partners with organizations across North America to give coats to children in need. The partnership with the North Adams Rotary Club gives the Santa Fund added benefits and funding as well as additional program and administrative support.
But what about the toys? The Elf Program at Berkshire Community Action Council generally provides toys with their warm winter clothing distributed in December. This program serves 800 eligible children in Northern Berkshire while the Santa Fund typically served 500. All toys currently stored with the Santa Fund will be given to Berkshire Community Action Council for their Elf program this year.
The Santa Fund also will develop a list of other needs it wants to support throughout the year, particularly in the summer. These needs are still being developed and will evolve over time, as do community issues.
If anyone in the community would like to contribute to the Operation Warm Coat Fund, the cost to serve one child and provide one coat is $20. Donations can be made securely online. However, because this is a transition year, the fund will only be able to take in a limited number of applications and the due date is Sept. 27. The goal this year is to serve 300 children and increase that number next year. For more information or to apply, contact BCAC at 413-663-3014.
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