‘Unbelievable’ generosity shown in toy drive for Greenfield shelter families



GREENFIELD — One woman showed up at the Greenfield Health Department’s offices with nearly 50 handmade blankets to donate, recalled Public Health Nurse Meg Tudryn.

Another woman, a Greenfield Community College nursing student, dropped off “bags and bags” of gifts, having once been a person who’d fallen on hard times and saw an opportunity to give back. Yet another person brought caseloads of diapers, while someone else contributed gift cards to food establishments.

And then there was the woman who arrived with a wagon loaded with gifts she’d bought at TJ Maxx and Marshalls, added Health Inspector Nicole DuCharme.

“There were a few people who were unbelievable,” Tudryn said of the community’s generosity.

All of the items dropped off at the offices on Sanderson Street were part of a toy drive coordinated this month by ServiceNet, which manages both the emergency shelter at the Days Inn on Colrain Road and the Greenfield Family Inn on Federal Street, as well as other sites scattered throughout the city. The toy drive will also benefit REACH, ServiceNet’s early childhood intervention program.

The donations, which were wrapped and labeled by ServiceNet staff this week at their Northampton office, were delivered to each of the shelters on Friday for families to open on Christmas morning.

“We’ve had the best possible problem of having to keep up with the amount of toys,” ServiceNet Director of Communications & Development Amy Diehl said from outside the Days Inn on Friday, where she unloaded donations from a ServiceNet box truck, separating them by age group and handing them to case managers who brought them indoors for safe keeping. The Days Inn has been used since June to provide emergency shelter to immigrant and refugee families, many of whom are Haitian immigrants, under the Massachusetts Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

“This is 10 times bigger [than last year’s drive],” she said. “Everyone has been thrilled by it. I think it’s brought all of us joy and I think it’ll bring joy to everyone else at the shelter.”

In total, Diehl estimated between 400 and 500 items were donated to benefit the 61 families in the Greenfield family shelter system. These included 45 at the Days Inn and 16 at the Greenfield Family Inn and other city sites.

“Every child will get a toy,” Diehl said. “We also have lots of books to give away, handmade blankets … and we also have a lot of stocking stuffers.”

Case manager Sarah Gordon said that by working with parents and families at the shelter, she and other case managers are familiar with each child’s wish list.

“Everyone will have a gift,” she said. “Every kid deserves to wake up on Christmas morning and open a present.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter (X): @MaryEByrne. Click here to read original article.

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