Toy for Joy is approaching a century, still going strong at 99

The headline of the December 17, 1932 edition of the Springfield Daily News read: “$ 1,000 more wanted to provide a Merry Christmas to needy children.” “

Even in the height of the Great Depression, individuals and businesses in western Massachusetts have answered the call to help children in families facing a dark Christmas without help.

Locals have been there during war, economic turmoil, social change and most recently a pandemic to brighten the holidays for less fortunate families.

Now, in its 99th year of serving children and their families, the annual Toy for Joy campaign is once again underway to make Christmas a happy time for children and families in need in Hampden Counties, Hampshire and Franklin.

The roots of Toy for Joy can be traced back to the years after World War I and what was called the Union Santa Fund. By the “roaring” 1920s, the Bowles family were in their fourth generation of newspaper owners in Springfield, and Toy for Joy was spurred on by entertainment perks including staged boxing programs.

But in 1932, nearly one in four American families had no income, and unemployment stood at 23.6%. Toy for Joy’s goal that year was $ 3,000, an intimidating amount in a year of depression when the average income – by workers who even had income – was $ 1,368 per year.

The 1932 training achieved its goal. Fast forward to the 21st century, and the goal for this year, as it has been for the past decade, is $ 150,000.

Today, Toy for Joy is a collaborative effort of The Salvation Army with The Republican, El Pueblo Latino and MassLive, as well as media partners of Reminders Publishing and The Westfield News.

Diligent workers and volunteers at Salvation Army sites in Springfield, Holyoke and Greenfield trust the generosity of area residents and businesses to reach the goal by Christmas Eve – and cover the costs toys and books that will bring smiles to children and families across the tri-county area.

For several years, the campaign bore fruit for children but fell short of its ambitious goal. Then, in 2020, the people of western Massachusetts resisted the COVID-19 pandemic and showed their collective character and spirit in inspiring ways – exceeding the target at a time in history when the tagline ” We are all in the same boat ”had taken on a new and profound meaning.

Families across the region continue to face challenges. The pandemic is not over. Inflation causes anxiety in ways that did not surface in 2020. Yet the organizers and volunteers of Toy for Joy know in their hearts that the generosity of our residents remains unwavering.

“Toy for Joy has faced many challenges over the course of its history, and while a few years have failed to reach its goal, the pandemic has truly shown how united we can become in an effort to help people. families at what should be a happy time. of the year, ”said Republican editor-in-chief Cynthia G. Simison. “Our generous readers, school groups and professional organizations show year after year how much they care about the children who benefit from Toy for Joy.”

Last year’s results were a dramatic statement, but so were all of the previous 98 years of this Christmas charity campaign. In a constantly changing world, the spirit of human kindness has endured through this campaign.

Hampden County Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi and his team have joined for the third year in a row to provide support and help raise awareness of the Toy for Joy campaign and the need to help families.

Donations are used directly to cover the cost of toys and books for children.

Each child will receive one book, one toy, and one play-type game or toy. Donations can be mailed with the attached coupon to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103, or made online at

Contributions can be mailed with this coupon to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, MA, 01103.

Here is a list of recent contributions:

In memory of our parents and sister Linda de Norm and Jeanne $ 100

In memory of Philip and Ann Mirarchi, Hugo, Rose and Roger Sedran $ 50

CAS $ 25

In loving memory of Cheryl Ann Levy $ 25

In memory of grandfather and grandmother Donaldson, Paul and Mikey. I miss you all $ 20

In memory of Francis Ted Williams $ 15

From Bob and Josie $ 100

Received $ 335

Total to date $ 855

Still need $ 149,145

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