Updated: Dec. 10, 2021, 5:00 a.m. | Published: Dec. 10, 2021, 5:00 a.m.
By Elizabeth Román | email@example.com
EAST LONGMEADOW — From dinner at the Center Square Grill to a massage or a craft beer gift basket, the items featured on the raffle calendar offered by CareOne at Red Stone helped generate support for Toy for Joy while providing fun and relaxing rewards for the winners.
“We asked local businesses to donate, and they came through as well as local families and individuals,” said Michelle Altobello, director of admissions at CareOne. She coordinates the facility’s annual support for Toy for Joy along with Patricia Gendron, community marketing director for the senior care rehabilitation center in East Longmeadow.
Their donation of $1,500 leads today’s list of contributions.
For more than five years the staff at CareOne, backed by community members and businesses, hosted “Wreaths for a Reason.” In those efforts, they would decorate elaborate wreaths to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to Toy for Joy. In order to ensure the safety of the residents and staff the wreath auction was cancelled this year.
“Because of COVID-19 and all of the restrictions we have in place we couldn’t do ‘Wreaths for a Reason’ this year, but we still wanted to donate to Toy for Joy because it’s such a great community event and we like to be a part of it,” she said. “We thought about what we could do instead to generate money and that’s how the calendar raffle happened.”
The Salvation Army collaborates with The Republican, El Pueblo Latino and MassLive to present the annual Toy for Joy campaign, now in its 99th year. The goal is to raise $150,000 by Christmas Eve. This year, the campaign is joined by media partners at Reminders Publishing and The Westfield News. The charitable campaign provides books and gifts to children in need in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.
Pride Stores and Hampden County Sheriff Nicholas J. Cocchi are among the community partners supporting this year’s effort. This marks the sheriff’s third year of assisting the holiday drive, while Pride Stores has been rallying its customers to support the effort for many years. Last year, Pride Stores donated $17,000 to the cause.
Altobello said businesses and the community were very generous to CareOne in this year’s fundraising effort.
“So many people wanted to participate, and our administrator, Bryan (Rossano), pulls a name every day in December to win the prize. It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “We would definitely like to return to doing the wreaths next year, but at least this way we could still contribute to Toy for Joy.”
Donations, which are chronicled daily in The Republican and on MassLive, go directly to cover the costs of toys and books already purchased for the children.
Each child will receive a book, a toy and a game or game-type toy. Donations can be mailed with the attached coupon to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103, or made online at SalvationArmyMA.org/ToyForJoyDonation.