NORTHAMPTON – Amalia FourHawks hadn’t seen her 85-year-old husband Leonard FourHawks for greater than 9 months for the reason that onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Talking by a plexiglass window on the VA Medical Middle in Leeds only a few weeks in the past, the 2 had loads of catching as much as do regardless of each day telephone calls.
One factor her husband was adamant about was ensuring that they made their annual donation to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund within the reminiscence of Amalia’s brother Mark Neal, a Hatfield resident, father and locksmith who died of most cancers in November 2014 on the age of 60.
“It was after his passing and through his funeral that individuals have been coming to the household and saying that they’d such loving ideas of him as a result of he would do issues like drop off a bag of groceries on somebody’s steps,” Amalia recalled. “One older lady got here to us and instructed us about how she’d been so fearful a couple of fence rail that had been damaged and he or she couldn’t bodily handle the work on it. And he or she received up one morning and it was carried out. And it was my brother. So many individuals stored telling us these great tales. We didn’t actually know that he did that form of factor.”
Although Leonard and Neal weren’t shut pals, he instructed Amalia that he believed it was necessary, even throughout a tough 12 months with a pandemic nonetheless raging, to honor Neal’s legacy, she mentioned. She and her husband donated $100 to the toy fund, whereas her father Alton Neal (who lives together with her in Florence) contributed $100 as nicely.
Amalia described her brother Mark as having a barely gruff exterior at occasions, however total being kind-hearted. It wasn’t till after his loss of life through which she discovered that in addition to serving to individuals in his neighborhood and group, he had additionally donated cash regularly to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund and to the Northampton Survival Middle.
“This can be a man who didn’t have an entire lot,” she added. “But it surely was in his coronary heart that he had greater than different individuals. And so, it was solely proper to share.”
Mark Neal labored as a locksmith at Foster and Farrar True Worth ironmongery store on King Road in Northampton for greater than a decade. Moreover his job, Neal was a mentor to individuals as a recovering alcoholic at Alcoholics Nameless conferences.
“It was crucial to him as a result of he thought he had a job in inspiring different individuals,” Amalia mentioned. “He was a conundrum. He actually was an enigma so far as persona as a result of what you noticed in the future, you wouldn’t see the following day. However beneath, you knew he was going to go the additional yard for you.”
The household had been contributing to the toy fund and different charities yearly across the holidays earlier than Mark died, however after realizing extra about him, they’ve made it an annual custom to “make it possible for the spirit of generosity nonetheless lives,” Amalia mentioned.
Amalia mentioned if her brother Mark knew that the household was honoring his legacy by donating to the toy fund, he’d most likely be somewhat embarrassed. She mentioned he was somebody who was extraordinarily humble to the purpose the place not even his circle of relatives knew about his charitable acts.
“Our spirit of Christmas is ensuring that different individuals have Christmas,” she added. “And that’s our reminiscence of my brother.”
Named after a former enterprise supervisor on the Gazette, the toy fund started in 1933 to assist households in want in the course of the Despair. Immediately, the fund distributes vouchers price $40 to households for every baby from age 1 to 14. Eligible households should dwell in any Hampshire County group besides Ware, within the southern Franklin County cities of Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately, Shutesbury, and Leverett, or in Holyoke in Hampden County.
18 Levels Household Companies for Western Massachusetts at 59 Interstate Drive in West Springfield verifies households’ eligibility and the Gazette covers prices related to the drive, liberating all donations to fund the vouchers.
The next shops are accepting the vouchers this 12 months: A2Z Science and Studying Retailer, 57 King St., Northampton; Blue Marble/Little Blue, 150 Fundamental St., Degree 1, Northampton: Offers & Steals, 1 Pearl St., Northampton; Excessive 5 Books, 141 N. Fundamental St., Florence; The Toy Field, 201 N. Nice St., Amherst; As soon as Upon A Youngster,1458 Riverdale St., West Springfield; Sam’s Outside Outfitters, 227 Russell St., Hadley; Odyssey Bookshop, 9 School St., Village Commons, South Hadley; The Eric Carle Museum of Image Ebook Artwork, 125 W. Bay Street, Amherst; World Eye Bookshop & Magical Youngster Toy Retailer, 134 Fundamental St., Greenfield; Holyoke Sporting Items Co., 1584 Dwight St. No. 1, Holyoke.
Donations to the Toy Fund could also be mailed to the Day by day Hampshire Gazette, P.O. Field 299, Northampton, MA, 01061, or made by Gazettenet at www.gazettenet.com. Checks needs to be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.
Chris Goudreau might be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.