PITTSFIELD — When Donna Stacy thinks about Christmas spirit, she thinks of her granddaughter Jessica, who tragically passed away in 2007 at the age of 23.
“Jessie loved Christmas, and even when she was flat broke she came up with gifts for everybody,” said Stacy. “I donate in lieu of a gift for her, so some other child can have a nice Christmas.”
To honor Jessica, Stacy has been contributing to the Eagle Santa Fund since 2017. The fund is a nonprofit corporation that helps parents of children 12 and younger that are in need afford Christmas gifts for their children.
This was not the beginning of Stacy’s donation to the fund. While raising her own children between 1969 and 1998, she also contributed out of empathy for other parents with children the same age as hers. Stacy worries that disadvantaged children who do not receive gifts might think it’s a punishment for bad behavior.
“If I’m fortunate enough to be able to enjoy gift-giving with my family, I’d like to see everyone with an opportunity to provide a gift, especially to little ones,” she said.
Now in its 94th year, the Eagle Santa Fund’s goal this year is to raise $50,000. As of last Saturday, the fund had $5,500 in hand from early donations.
Because of the economy and a growing need in the region, organizers decided to raise the goal by $5,000 this year. Last year, over 1,000 children received assistance through the fund.
Families have to apply by proving they fall within income requirements. In early December, the Eagle fund gives the qualifying families special $60 Walmart gift cards to use for gifts. The cards must be used by Christmas Eve.
Children 2 or younger receive a gift chosen by the Santa Fund. To ensure all recipients will understand how to spend the money, the fund will provide detailed instructions in both English and Spanish.
So far this year, the biggest donation has come from the Crane Foundation, which provided a $2,500 gift. Susan Shreve, director of the Crane Charitable Fund, said the donation came at the recommendation of a local employee.
“We’re proud to support them in their endeavors to offer that service to the community,” she said.Donations can be mailed to The Eagle Santa Fund, 75 South Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201, or dropped off at The Eagle office at that address.
Contributions can be listed in the donor’s name, in memory of loved ones or anonymously. Donors and their contributions will be listed in The Eagle, unless otherwise noted.
A donation form can be found in the newspaper. To ensure that a contribution is listed by Christmas Day, it must be received by Dec. 20.
The fund accepts donations year-round. Last May, thanks to the generosity of the community, outdoor toys were distributed during the Health Kids Day.