Winter donation drive warms 1,500 children

  • Sarah Skuse fits a knitted winter hat on her son Steve, 2, while his brother Theodore, 3, looks for his own to try during the annual Warm the Children event in September at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • David Chichester, who won the Greenfield Recorder’s Citizen of the Year award in 2018, donated half his prize money to Warm the Children. STAFF File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2019 10:03:35 PM
Modified: 12/6/2019 10:03:21 PM

This fall, Warm the Children distributed winter clothes to about 1,500 children in Franklin County whose families otherwise wouldn’t have been able to buy warm clothes for the winter.

This year’s distribution, which was in September at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, was a bit larger than in most years, said Kileen Perras, who coordinates the distribution of the clothes for Community Action Pioneer Valley. Most years, the number of children served is closer to 1,000.

“I know families look forward to it every year,” Perras said. “It definitely warms the children of Franklin County.”

Warm the Children is organized by the Greenfield Recorder and Community Action. In previous years, the purchase of the clothes has been done through Wilson’s, the department store in Greenfield. But Wilson’s recently announced plans to close, so a different buyer will have to be found for the money being raised now and through the coming year, said Recorder Business Manager Pat Maleno.

The Recorder’s winter donation drive, which is going on through the end of December, is the biggest source of funding for Warm the Children, Maleno said. Last year the drive raised about $22,000, she said, and donations this year are tracking similarly.

Fundraising events are the other major source of money, Maleno said. The Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s yearly “Break-athon,” in which students break boards to raise money, was in November, and brought in about $3,000. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office holds a golf tournament every spring, which raised just over $20,000 this year, Maleno said.

Donations are accepted all year, even though the winter donation drive is the charity’s biggest campaign. Most donations are about $100, Maleno said, but some are less and some are higher. One person gave a $1,000 donation, she noted.

“It varies,” Maleno said. “It’s what an individual can afford.”

Each recipient of Warm the Children receives about $80 worth of clothes, Maleno said.

Last December, a high-profile donation came from Greenfield resident David Chichester, who had won the Recorder’s Citizen of the Year award and donated half of the $500 prize to Warm the Children, and the other half to Hospice of Franklin County.

Chichester was named Citizen of the Year for his years of charitable service. Since retiring in 1994 from his job at an insurance company, Chichester had volunteered for no fewer than 10 charitable organizations.

Chichester said he had been aware of Warm the Children for years, and that he and his family had donated in previous years, too.

“We think there is an incredible need in this community for providing warm, comfortable clothing to people in need,” Chichester said.

Reach Max Marcus at
mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.


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