Santa Fund

Attendees enjoy a pasta dinner in 2019 in Pittsfield to benefit The Eagle Santa Fund.

Of all the times for fundraisers, 2020’s holiday season was a hard one to be optimistic about. Despite the odds, however, three Berkshire charities not only met their goals — they shattered them.

The Watson Fund, which provides food and clothing gift certificates to needy families throughout South County, beat its goal by several thousand dollars. The Laliberte Toy Fund serving Lee, Tyringham and Lenox Dale nearly doubled what it hoped to raise. And the Eagle Santa Fund, which pays for gift cards for hundreds of families in the Pittsfield area and beyond, topped $45,000 — an annual goal that was not met the previous two years but was surpassed by more than $10,000.

It’s heartening that, despite the turmoil and uncertainty of a trying year, the Berkshires ended 2020 showing that nothing can stifle the county’s community spirit to rally around those in need. Even as the coronavirus pandemic made the charities’ usual fundraising events impossible, local generosity shined through anyway. Many donations to the Eagle Santa Fund came in lieu of normal holiday parties or festivities, with some willing to put the money they weren’t able to spend on traditional merriment because of the pandemic toward their most vulnerable neighbors. The Watson Fund was put over the top by an anonymous $15,000 gift that amounted to 50 percent of its total goal, which it wound up surpassing by more than $7,000.

COVID-19 was determined to make this a dark winter for everyone. Yet when the chips were down, the spark of our community’s selflessness ensured the season of light would not be extinguished. Throughout the pandemic, area nonprofits have spoken both of the increased need brought on by COVID, but also the incredible outpouring of support that has kept them afloat in tempestuous waters. Even as these Christmas charities’ organizers doubted the ability to fundraise amid the pandemic, the Berkshires’ unique brand of grit and neighborly care continued this trend through the holidays.

The holidays are over, but for the near future COVID-19 and its co-morbid economic anxieties will continue to wreak havoc on the less-fortunate. For those able, consider supporting a local food bank, shelter or other nonprofits that provide a lifeline to the swelling numbers of those in need. As always, we are all in this together.

It has been a time of unprecedented tribulation for our nation as well as our individual communities. Nevertheless, these Christmas charities surpassing their goals is a gift we can all share in beyond the holiday season: Whatever may come, at least we have each other’s backs here in the Berkshires.