image description
Coordinator Christopher Keegan, center in the Marine sweat shirt, with volunteers who came together to sort toys for the annual Toys for Tots drive.
image description

Toys For Tots Providing for Thousands of Berkshire County Kids

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

Piles of toys being sorted for age and gender in the Toys for Tots drive. More than 3,500 children are expected to receive toys through the program this year. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Thousands of local kids will have presents to open this holiday season thanks to the Marine Corps' annual Toys For Tots collection.

The Berkshire County House of Correction's storage building looked more like Santa's workshop as a dozen volunteers sorted mountains of toys for ages newborn to 14.  

"Everything's going great," Berkshire County coordinator Christopher Keegan said. "How could it not?"

Last year, about 3,500 kids received toys and Keegan expects that number to be surpassed this year. The state Department of Children and Families, one of more than 20 participating agencies, has more than a thousand sign-ups alone.  

Individuals also register with Keegan directly and online.

For nearly a decade, he has seen more and more tots needing toys during the holiday season. Between 2021 and 2022, the receiving list increased by around 800 kids.

Unwrapped toys are collected through boxes placed in businesses, schools, and other public spaces. There were more than 240 boxes this year and they were collected on Tuesday to be sorted by gender and age groups.

The drive sees everything from dolls and toy trucks to a Little Tikes basketball hoop and donations are still coming in. Shoppers fill any gaps with funds that are raised through events like the Toys For Tots musical bingo, which was a great success this year.

Keegan's yearly goal is to honor every request for toys. There are many returning volunteers who collect, pack, shop for, and deliver the presents — sometimes up until Christmas Eve.

"It all depends on how many toys we have coming in," he said. "That will determine what we have to do."


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.  

At that time, 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 is in his 9th year as the Berkshire County coordinator after becoming a Marine Corps League Pittsfield Detachment 137 member in 2015. At his first meeting, he was ordered to take over the effort and has positively impacted it since.

"The very first thing they told me is 'you're taking over this,'" he said. "And really anything I do, I put everything into it."

As an employee of the maintenance department at the House of Corrections, Keegan's leadership has led to the Sheriff's Office becoming 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 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

 


Tags: toys for tots,   

If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at info@iberkshires.com.

Berkshire County Regional Employment Board Awarded State Grant

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Healey-Driscoll Administration announced $16.3 million in Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) grants awarded to nine organizations to upskill 1,860 individuals for careers in high-demand occupations in healthcare and behavioral health sectors across Massachusetts. 
 
The funding will support initiatives to train and hire unemployed and underemployed individuals while providing current employees with the skills to meet the needs of Massachusetts employers for roles such as Emergency Medical Technician, Certified Nurse Assistant, and Mental Health Peer Support Specialist.
 
"Industries across the state are experiencing workforce challenges, but the need is particularly great in behavioral health care, as we need enough trained workers to provide the care that our residents need and deserve," said Governor Maura Healey. "These grants will help address these challenges by hiring and training new talent and upskilling existing talent."  
 
In Berkshire County, the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, Inc. was awarded $2,227,173.
 
Berkshire County Regional Employment Board will provide training and placement services to prepare 510 unemployed and underemployed participants for Medical Assistant, Certified Nurse Assistant, Acute Care Nurse Assistant, and Registered Behavioral Technician positions. They will partner with Community Health Programs, The Brien Center, Berkshire Health Systems, and Integritus Healthcare. 
 
This partnership also aims to assess the demand and develop programming opportunities for Licensed Practical Nurses, career pathways for Licensed Practical Nurses to Registered Nurses, and provide career advancement training for incumbent Behavioral Health workers.
 
The Workforce Competitive Trust Fund Program grants, administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, are part of the Healey-Driscoll Administration's strategic investment to retain and upskill existing talent in Massachusetts' current workforce. The Healthcare/Behavioral Health Hub Grants announced today support investments in collaborative efforts focused on addressing healthcare and behavioral health workforce needs in regions across the Commonwealth. 
 
View Full Story

More Pittsfield Stories