WILLIAMSTOWN -- With its annual fundraising campaign already under way, organizers of the Williamstown Community Chest are optimistic they will reach their goal of $250,000 by the spring.
Executive Director Anne Singleton said the fund, now in it's 86th year, has collected almost $177,000 since the campaign was launched in the fall. An endowment covers all administrative costs, meaning all of the funds raised go directly to the 14 member agencies.
"We're slightly ahead of where we were this time last year," Singleton said, adding this year's campaign raised that money with fewer donors than last year. Member agencies approach the Chest and request aid based on a variety of factors, Singleton said.
"A lot of financial information is shared," she said. "We look at what programs have been successful, and how many people were served."
Singleton said one of the biggest challenges agencies face is cuts from the state. And even though some funding remains level, the cost of living keeps increasing.
"That funding may not meet the cost of living," she said.
The group does outreach in various ways. The most recent Fun Run, organized to raise awareness for the Chest and member agencies, raised over $1,000. In addition to the Fun Run, the board has participated in October's Make a Difference Day.
Singleton and Board of Directors President Michael Goodwin said Williams College has been one of their biggest supporters. The college matches 50 percent of employee and retiree donations to the Chest, along with donations to Northern Berkshire and Bennington United Ways.
"And we've seen an increase every year in college donations," Singleton said. "About 40 percent of what we raise comes from combined donor contributions and the match.
Singleton said since she joined the organization in 1995, one thing has stayed the same.
"People never stopped giving," she said. "They may have given less, but they never stopped."
Goodwin agreed, and added the organization is truly a community based effort.
"We always recognize the fact of, if we don't do it, who will," he said. "We all need to support those who have need. And the need never stops."
Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so online at williamstowncommunitychest.org/donate, or send a check to the organization at P.O. Box 204, Williamstown, MA, 01267.
To reach Edward Damon, email