This year the Stocking Fund has a hole in it

HUDSON–“There is a huge need this year,” said Marcella Biegel. For the last decade she has led the Edith Casey Stocking Fund, a project run by RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer program) that has provided toys for the needy children of Columbia County for the past 89 years. This is the worst year she can recall.

“Money is scarce. This has been the hardest year so far,” said Ms. Biegel. “At first the room was so full of toys, you couldn’t move, but we’re down to nothing.”  Two hundred bags of toys tailored to meet the needs of specific children await pick-up by their families, but 200 more applications need to be fulfilled, and it’s not clear at this point where the toys will come from.

“The Fingar agency and the Columbia-Greene County Realtors group gave generously,” she said.

A few boxes of play dough sit on tables waiting to be packed. Separate tables hold toys appropriate for girls, boys and infants, while a hallway contains larger items that will be raffled to families, including a Shaker doll that would retail for around $150, a large toy aircraft carrier and a doll wearing a hand crocheted dress.

“We’ve never looked around like this and said: Where are the gifts?” said Ms. Beigel.

The mood was subdued at the group’s temporary holiday headquarters at Fifth and Warren streets this week. “We are really overwhelmed,” she said.

Toys are arriving, but unlike other years, the donations are coming in slowly. Ms. Biegel sees only one cause. “Look at the economy; it isn’t good,” she said.

The group is accepting new toys and cash through the end of this week. Next week the families come in to pick up their gifts.

The program serves children from infants to 12 years old, and volunteers hoping to give each child a

game, a book, a larger gift, and a stocking stuffer.

For more information, call Marcella Biegel at RSVP (518) 828-0251.

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