Photo Gallery | Salvation Army and Christian Center distribute toys and food
PITTSFIELD — The Salvation Army of Pittsfield and Christian Center have teamed up to bring joy to less fortunate city residents this holiday season.
On Monday, volunteers for the two faith-based organizations began distributing toys, food baskets and basic necessities — especially diapers — to more than 350 families with nearly 800 children, according to Capt. Darlene Higgins of the Salvation Army.
The allocation to those who pre-registered for the donations continues Tuesday at the Salvation Army on West Street, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
With many families assisted by both nonprofits, leaders of both determined last year it was best to pool resource single location for distribution.
"The community is pulling together and with more volunteers," said volunteer Jessica DiTomasso. "It's very well organized this year."
DiTomasso is among some 20 volunteers, including seven from Berkshire Bank, playing Santa's Helpers as recipients of the seasonal goodwill filed into the Salvation Army gymnasium.
Higgins gave a big shout out to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and their nearly 70-year-old nationwide annual tradition of ensuring needy children have gifts under the tree Christmas morning.
"If it wasn't for Toys for Tots, we wouldn't have all this," she said "They were the heroes this year — and those who donated the toys."
Older children also benefit from the charitable giveaway, as some 220 teenagers will have their Christmas wish-lists fulfilled, according to Cindy Hand, a referral specialist at the Christian Center.
"Surprisingly, a lot of them asked for art supplies, books, nail polish and beauty products for the girls," she said.
The Salvation Army/Christian Center partnership is the latest Christmas collaboration to spread holiday cheer in the Berkshires.
For years, the Salvation Army has worked closely with the Eagle Santa Fund, accepting applications from families wanting to access the fund that provides Walmart gift cards to children ages 3-11 and preschool toys to those age 2 and under.
Fund coordinator Jude Forrest has found such teamwork works best during the holiday season.
"For reasons no one can understand this community has been extremely generous this year," she said. "It appears that a lot of the organizations pooled their resources to see that no one is going without gifts under the tree this year."