PITTSFIELD >> As Santa readies his sleigh for takeoff, the holiday toy fundraiser bearing his name is making a big push for $13,000 in the final week of the seasonal charity.
As of Wednesday, The Eagle Santa Fund had received nearly $32,000 of the annual $45,000 goal, but organizers expect a flurry of contributions up to and beyond Christmas Day. The 87th annual charity sponsored by The Berkshire Eagle will continue to accept donations through New Year's Day.
This year, more than 1,000 children from some 400 families in Central and South Berkshire benefited from the fund, established in 1929 at the dawn of the Great Depression.
Donations buy pre-school toys for children 2 and younger, while parents or guardians of children 3 to 11 receive a gift certificate, redeemable at Walmart in Pittsfield, toward the purchase of a gift for their youngsters. The gift cards were distributed to Pittsfield-area families two weeks ago, with rest mailed out to participating South Berkshire households.
In recent years, special events have bolstered contributions, including the Jingle Bell Run. Last Saturday, the informal run/walk sponsored by the Berkshire Running Center in Pittsfield, took in $1,456.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of people turned out at the Elks Lodge in Pittsfield, where Soldier On sponsored a benefit pasta dinner. The veterans organization raised a record amount of nearly $8,000 from an event that has become an instant hit during the holiday season since it debuted in 2013.
While such social gatherings spotlight The Eagle Santa Fund, individual donations have been its mainstay since the monetary gifts can be listed in the donor's name, in memory of loved ones, or anonymously.
Donors and their tax-deductible contributions will be listed in the paper unless otherwise noted.
Donations must be mailed to The Eagle Santa Fund, 75 S. Church St. Pittsfield, MA 01201, or dropped off at The Berkshire Eagle office at 75 S. Church St.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233