'Giving Back in Greenfield' toy drive helps record numbers

Recorder Staff
Published: 12/22/2016 10:42:35 PM

GREENFIELD — The navy blue couches at The RECOVER Project were piled high with stuffed animals, board games, books, clothes and an abundance of other toys Thursday morning, marking the third year of Giving Back in Greenfield.

Through Giving Back in Greenfield, staff at The RECOVER Project — a peer-to-peer addiction recovery group — collected new and used toy donations for several weeks. Families in need were then welcomed into The RECOVER Project’s offices on Federal Street to pick out a few items from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

The program, according to organizer Heather Taylor, is intended to ensure that all local children will have presents come Christmas Day, regardless of what their families can afford. Taylor said families came from across Franklin County and even as far away as Springfield to take advantage of Giving Back in Greenfield, displaying significant gratitude for the invaluable help in getting toys for their own children and relatives.

“This year has been really tough,” said Jessica Cardinal of Colrain, who picked up toys for her nephew Kai, 11, and niece Zoey, 5. “We didn’t really have a lot of money for presents … I would say this is one of the toughest years.”

Cardinal said having a program like Giving Back in Greenfield helps take the stress out of getting presents for her family members on a limited budget.

“It’s really more for the children,” she said. “As long as I can make them happy and they can have something to open.”

Michelle Bryan, also of Colrain, whose primary source of income comes from being a foster parent, stopped to shop for her three biological children and two foster children.

“I remember growing up with big huge Christmases, but it’s almost impossible to do with that kind of income and five kids,” Bryan said.

Bryan also donated some toys to the program that her own children had outgrown or no longer used, driven to help other families in need in any way she could while giving forgotten toys a new life with a new child.

“(This program) means people are caring and giving, and for people who don’t have much, it helps,” said Patty Carroll of Greenfield, who picked up toys for her daughter Emily Forrette, 9, and Alex Holder, 4. “Everything’s so expensive. After paying bills and everything, it’s definitely a struggle.”

Taylor thanks all community members and local businesses who donated presents and gift wrap, including Baker Office Supply, Seaman Paper Company of Gardner and the nonprofit organization True Christmas.

Nearly 150 children benefited from Giving Back in Greenfield last year. The program proved to be even bigger this year; Taylor said it provided toys for 213 children on Thursday, and said it’s not over yet.

“We will continue to allow people to stop in and get gifts until they’re gone,” Taylor said. “We do still have some things left.”


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