HUDSON — A Columbia County charity started during the Christmas season in 1920 turns 100 this year.
Edith Casey was an agent with the Columbia County Committee of State Charities, known today as Columbia County Social Services, said Ann Rubino Delaney, a long-time volunteer for the Edith Casey Stocking Fund.
Through her job, Casey saw there were children in the county who were not going to get presents that year due to economic hardships.
Casey, some other employees and community members began collecting toys for those in need, and the Edith Casey Stocking Fund began.
Over the next century, the number of area families needing help would increase. The fund provided gifts to 889 children last Christmas, Delaney said.
The fund is expecting even more families to request assistance this year due to COVID-19 and a higher number of residents without work, Delaney said.
The mission of the fund is to provide assistance for individuals and families experiencing hard times, especially during the holiday season, according to a statement from the Edith Casey Stocking Fund.
In addition, the fund is available throughout the year to help needy families and individuals with emergency household expenses not covered by existing resources.
The Department of Social Services administers the fund, but many community members, groups, organizations and businesses are instrumental in the charity’s success.
Every October, American Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Columbia County holds its annual toy run. Hundreds of toys collected by the group are brought to the Edith Casey Store in the Fairview Plaza in early December. Due to the pandemic, the store will be closed this year.
All toy donations may be brought to the Social Services building at 25 Railroad Ave., in Hudson, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Toy donation boxes will also be available at Bank of Greene County branches in Hudson, Greenport, Germantown and Chatham, and at Fingar Insurance in Greenport and Germantown, Delaney said. Recipients range in age from infant to 17 years old.
Tony Concra and Concra Appraisal Associates are another strong supporter of Edith Casey, Delaney said.
Every year, they bring trailers of toys collected for the children, Delaney said. Key Bank and the Bank of Greene County also lend continued support.
Another donor is the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Columbia County. For decades, RSVP Director Marcella Biegel and the members assisted families in need with registering for the fund and helping them pick out the toys for their children.
But due to COVID restrictions this year, members of the organization will be selecting the toys from suggestion lists provided by the needy families, Delaney said.
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program closed its doors in 2012 due to a lack of funding. Families in need this Christmas can sign up for the fund at the Social Services building in Hudson weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monetary donations can be made to the same address, Delaney said.
The charity had hoped to commemorate its 100th anniversary with a big celebration, but that can wait for another year, Delaney said.
“They want to thank the generous community of Columbia County, all of whom make the fund a success each year,” Delaney said.