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Toys for Tots coordinator Christopher Keegan says the toy drive put out 200 collection boxes. The toys are being stored and sorted in a warehouse at the House of Correction, where Keegan works in the maintenance department.

Toys for Tots Meeting Increased Community Need This Holiday Season

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Toys for Tots has well over 200 collection boxes out in the county this year for children in need.

The toy collection program accepts new, unwrapped toys for ages newborn to 14 years old in the months of October, November, and December so that no local kid goes without.

Berkshire County coordinator Christopher Keegan, who works in the maintenance department at the Berkshire County House of Correction, has been leading the effort for eight years now and has seen the hardships go up with rising costs of living.

"The need has gone up each year," he said.

As a person who has worked in the community his entire adult life, Keegan has seen that the people of Berkshire County are great at rallying around a cause. Last year's donations were "overwhelming," he reported.

This year, many have donated toys for younger children but the toy drive needs more donations for boys and girls ages 11 to 14. Even though the "very soft" deadline was earlier this week, donations can still be accepted and the Toys for Tots shoppers are still working.

Keegan's yearly goal is to honor every request for toys.

"We just adjust to the need," he said.

There are around 70 families signed up to receive toys this year and the program also works with about 15 local organizations including 18 Degrees, the Elizabeth Freeman Center, and the Pittsfield and North Adams Salvation Army.

Toys for Tots also has a wealth of returning volunteers who help sort, shop and deliver the toys. Keegan said the Berkshire County House of Correction's warehouse, where the donations are stored, has been buzzing with people.

At the end of September, there was a successful Toys for Tots musical bingo fundraiser at the Berkshire Hills Country Club. Community members also take it upon themselves to host toy drives and fundraisers.

The toy drive began in 1947 in Los Angeles. It was spearheaded by Marine Reserve Maj. William Hendricks and became a nationwide campaign in 1948.  



The Marine Corps League joined the effort and has been leading it since. The Toys For Tots Foundation was recognized as a non-profit in 1991 and charitable donations were able to be accepted.

Keegan was ordered to be the Berkshire County lead at his first meeting as a member of the Marine Corps League Pittsfield Detachment 137 and has successfully led it since.

He has made sure to keep the toys within Berkshire County to help tots in the donators' own back yard. 

Before, the toys would go to the Westover Air Base in Chicopee, where the active Marines are stationed and it would then be determined how much came back to the county. Keegan was able to work with the foundation to guarantee that donations made in the county stayed here.

With his leadership, the Sheriff's Office became involved by loaning storage space for the toys and vehicles for their pickup.

For inquiries about the program, Keegan can be reached at 413-443-7220, Ext. 1150, or by email at christopher.keegan@sdb.state.ma.us.

To donate by check, make payable to:
Marine Corps League Pittsfield Detachment 137

Mail Checks To:
Berkshire County Sheriff's Office
C/O Christopher Keegan
467 Cheshire Road
Pittsfield, MA 01201


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