Photo Gallery | Pittsfield Police host holiday party for families in need
PITTSFIELD — A new holiday party saw Pittsfield Police Patrolman's Union collect donations from local businesses and provide a day of food and gifts to six needy families on Saturday.
Pittsfield Police Investigator John Bassi said about 40 people attended the event, which will repeat annually.
"We've been through a rough time with our union this year due to our past president [Jeffrey Coco] and the stolen money, and our new board has been discussing ways to start reconnecting with the community and doing more positive things," Bassi said.
He added, "The atmosphere was very positive. A lot of officers sat down with the families who attended and had some great conversations. It was something in the holiday spirit and we hope we can build on next year and years to come after that."
Coco, a former Pittsfield Police officer and union president, was fired after an internal affairs investigation produced evidence he had stolen tens of thousands of dollars from union funds while an executive board member from 2011 through earlier this year.
For Saturday's event, Walmart donated remote controlled cars, arts and crafts kits and other presents, which police disbursed to children via a Santa Claus impersonator, while everyone present enjoyed a spaghetti dinner served up by members of Civitan Club.
Market 32, Mazzeo's Ristorante, The Highland Restaurant and Soldier On donated food for the event, which was held at the St. Jospeh's Church Parish Center. Greylock Federal Credit Union donated children's books which were given out to attendees.
The police union reached out to various agencies who work with the poor — Berkshire Community Action Council, Inc., Pittsfield Church of Christ, Boys & Girls Club of Berkshires and Christian Center Pittsfield — and had the agencies each select three families most in need.
Not all the chosen families showed up on Saturday, but Bassi thought it a good start nonetheless.
"We wanted to start small and see what kind of response we got," Bassi said. "In the future, we'll probably open it up to more agencies. As long as I'm still at Pittsfield Police Department, this holiday party is going to happen every year."