We (heart) the Deerfield River: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Art Garden Event: River Fest Parade

Hilltown Families and The Art Garden partner for a final community-service art-making event for the season

Our watersheds are vital and important ecosystems for animal and plant species. Celebrate the Deerfield River Watershed with friends, family, Hilltown Families and The Art Garden on Friday, June 6th, from 4-7pm in Shelburne Falls for our final community-service art-making event for the season.

At this event we will be focusing on what we love about the Deerfield River Watershed and preparing for the annual Deerfield RiverFest’s Frog and Flower parade on June 7. Be a part of creating large cardboard fish, frogs and flowers for the parade, as well as individual processional artworks. All ages can participate! Materials provided. Takes place at The Art Garden.

Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Join us for an evening of community service art-making on Friday, June 6th from 4-7pm at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA, for We (heart) the Deerfield River, the final event in a series of five free family community service nights!

The Art Garden is located at 14 Depot Street in Shelburne Falls, MA (in the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum building.) SEE MAP. Questions? Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.

Read the rest of this entry »

Paying it Forward with a Small Act of Kindness!

Intergenerational Community Service Workshop Spreads Kindness into Western MA Communities

On Friday, April 11th, 2014, Hilltown Families and the Art Garden presented a Flowers for Friends Workshop, the fourth workshop in a 5-part free Friday family workshop series in Shelburne Falls, MA. Families gathered to paint terracotta flower pots, planting them with violas to pass along to others in their community. Participating families were encouraged to give their flowers to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice. — Paying it forward with a small act of kindness!

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Do this project at home or with your youth/community group too! Simply paint terracotta pots with acrylic paint (no need to prime). Wait for the paint to dry (20 min.). Fill your pot with dirt and a pansy or viola. Write a note of encouragement, support and/or kindness on card stock and adhere it to a popsicle stick to stick into the dirt with your flower. Give to people in your community!

Random Acts of Kindness on Friday with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden

Flowers for Friends: Family Workshop
with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, April 11th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Share a small act of kindness to another! Decorate pots and plant posies to pass along to others in your community with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th from 4-7pm (FREE).

In the spirit of spreading kindness to others, Hilltown Families presents a free family workshop, Flowers for Friends, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 4-7pm.  Families are invite to join neighbors & friends in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and pass along to another in their community.

Participating families are encouraged to give their posy to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Pay it forward with a small act of kindness!

This is the second year in a row we are coordinating this event. See photos from last year here and check out this video that features last year’s event: Read the rest of this entry »

Flowers for Friends: Free Friday Family Workshop with Hilltown Families

Flowers for Friends: Family Workshop
with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, April 11th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Share a small act of kindness to another! Decorate pots and plant posies to pass along to others in your community with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th from 4-7pm (FREE).

In the spirit of spreading kindness to others, Hilltown Families presents a free family workshop, Flowers for Friends, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 4-7pm.  Families are invite to join neighbors & friends in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and pass along to another in their community.

Participating families are encouraged to give their posy to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Pay it forward with a small act of kindness!

This is the second year in a row we are coordinating this event. See photos from last year here and check out this video that features last year’s event:

Flowers for Friends is the fourth in a series of five Free Friday Family Community Service Nights that Hilltown Families and The Art Garden are offering, thanks to a grant from the Xeric Foundation. All materials included. Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration encouraged.

Click here to sign up…

Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective
Saturday Morning Music Party
March 15th, 10am, Easthampton, MA

The final Hilltown Families & Flywheel Saturday Morning Music Party takes place  on Saturday, March 15th at 10am! Come shake off your cabin fever with a pancake breakfast, screening of Pancake Mountain and a dance party with DJ Youthelectronix! Oh, and did we mention… it’s FREE!!! Join Hilltown Families and Flywheel in Easthampton on Saturday, March 15th at 10am!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton continue our super fun  ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ for a final Saturday this winter! Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages!

During a free breakfast of pancakes, juice, and fruit, a screening of Pancake Mountain will delight families. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.”  Get the kids moving and shaking off the winter blues.

Flywheel Arts Collective located in the old town hall in Easthampton (43 Main Street). This event is free and open to people of all ages.

DJ Youthelectronix, a.k.a. Jeremy Smith, a veteran Flywheel volunteer, led the effort to organize the Saturday Morning Music Party series in 2013, partnering with Hilltown Families. Driven to continue the success of past Saturday morning activities at Flywheel, Smith says, “We started the Saturday Morning Music Party to provide families with an affordable, fun activity that was enjoyable for adults as well as kids. We hope that families from all over the Valley will attend.” He’s particularly proud of the “diverse programming” to be offered, which is anything but the rote kids’ fare.

“Getting families with children of all ages out and engaged in their community has it’s challenges in the winter,” says Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield.  “A free morning music party with pancakes, and dancing is a recipe of fun for kids of all ages, and inviting for parents too!”


This event is supported in part by a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective
Saturday Morning Music Party
March 15th, 10am, Easthampton, MA

The final Hilltown Families & Flywheel Saturday Morning Music Party takes place  on Saturday, March 15th at 10am! Come shake off your cabin fever with a pancake breakfast, screening of Pancake Mountain and a dance party with DJ Youthelectronix! Oh, and did we mention… it’s FREE!!! Join Hilltown Families and Flywheel in Easthampton on Saturday, March 15th at 10am!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton continue our super fun  ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ for a final Saturday this winter! Come enjoy a breakfast bash featuring free pancakes and an awesome dance party for all ages!

During a free breakfast of pancakes, juice, and fruit, a screening of Pancake Mountain will delight families. After the breakfast, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.”  Get the kids moving and shaking off the winter blues.

Flywheel Arts Collective located in the old town hall in Easthampton (43 Main Street). This event is free and open to people of all ages.

DJ Youthelectronix, a.k.a. Jeremy Smith, a veteran Flywheel volunteer, led the effort to organize the Saturday Morning Music Party series in 2013, partnering with Hilltown Families. Driven to continue the success of past Saturday morning activities at Flywheel, Smith says, “We started the Saturday Morning Music Party to provide families with an affordable, fun activity that was enjoyable for adults as well as kids. We hope that families from all over the Valley will attend.” He’s particularly proud of the “diverse programming” to be offered, which is anything but the rote kids’ fare.

“Getting families with children of all ages out and engaged in their community has it’s challenges in the winter,” says Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield.  “A free morning music party with pancakes, and dancing is a recipe of fun for kids of all ages, and inviting for parents too!”


This event is supported in part by a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Pancakes & Polka!

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective will host a  ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ with performances by Shiprock and Anchordog and the Eddie Forman Orchestra on Saturday, February 8th at 10am in Easthampton, MA!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton have revived the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series, a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, performances and diversions for kids. Hosting three music parties this winter, two more remain: February 8 (as part of Easthampton’s Fire & Ice Festival) and March 11, 2014.

FEBRUARY 8TH: The second of three installments of the Saturday Morning Music Party kicks off the Easthampton Fire and Ice Festival on Saturday, February 8th at 10am at Flywheel Arts Collective located in the old town hall in Easthampton (43 Main Street).  This event is $12 per family, or $6 per individual, and open to people of all ages.

Following a free breakfast of pancakes, juice, and fruit, the February 8th event features performances by the storytelling band Shiprock and Anchordog and the legendary western Mass polka band the Eddie Forman Orchestra.

“Getting families with children of all ages out and engaged in their community has it’s challenges in the winter,” says Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield.  “A Saturday morning music party with free pancakes and live music is sure to get families on their feet and dancing the winter blues away!”

Jeremy Smith, a veteran Flywheel volunteer, led the effort to organize the Saturday Morning Music Party series in 2013. Driven to continue the success of past Saturday morning activities at Flywheel, Smith says, “We started the Saturday Morning Music Party to provide families with an affordable, fun activity that was enjoyable for adults as well as kids. We hope that families from all over the Valley will attend.” He’s particularly proud of the “diverse programming” to be offered, which is anything but the rote kids’ fare.


This event is supported in part by a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Saturday Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families & Flywheel to Kick Off Easthampton Fire & Ice Festival!

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective will host a  ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ with performances by Shiprock and Anchordog and the Eddie Forman Orchestra on Saturday, February 8th at 10am in Easthampton, MA!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton have revived the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series, a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, performances and diversions for kids. Hosting three music parties this winter, two more remain: February 8 (as part of Easthampton’s Fire & Ice Festival) and March 11, 2014.

FEBRUARY 8TH: The second of three installments of the Saturday Morning Music Party kicks off the Easthampton Fire and Ice Festival on Saturday, February 8th at 10am at Flywheel Arts Collective located in the old town hall in Easthampton (43 Main Street).  This event is $12 per family, or $6 per individual, and open to people of all ages.

Following a free breakfast of pancakes, juice, and fruit, the February 8th event features performances by the storytelling band Shiprock and Anchordog and the legendary western Mass polka band the Eddie Forman Orchestra.

“Getting families with children of all ages out and engaged in their community has it’s challenges in the winter,” says Hilltown Families Founder, Sienna Wildfield.  “A Saturday morning music party with free pancakes and live music is sure to get families on their feet and dancing the winter blues away!”

Jeremy Smith, a veteran Flywheel volunteer, led the effort to organize the Saturday Morning Music Party series in 2013. Driven to continue the success of past Saturday morning activities at Flywheel, Smith says, “We started the Saturday Morning Music Party to provide families with an affordable, fun activity that was enjoyable for adults as well as kids. We hope that families from all over the Valley will attend.” He’s particularly proud of the “diverse programming” to be offered, which is anything but the rote kids’ fare.


This event is supported in part by a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night
at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA
DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition
Friday, January 17th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Join us for an evening of community service art-making on Friday, Jan. 17th from 4-7pm at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA, for DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition, the second in a series of five free family community service nights!

What better gift to receive in the winter than a warm pair of handmade mittens or cozy handmade scarf; and what better gift to give to someone in your community than something you have lovingly made?

On Friday, January 17th from 4-7pm, Hilltown Families will be hosting a Free Family Community Service Night with The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls.  We are inviting families to join us for an evening of DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition. Come with an outgrown felted wool sweater, and/or fleece outerwear to be repurposed into easy-to-sew mittens and scarves to donate to New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT).  No previous experience is needed and there will be tasks for all ages… Join Us!

DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night
at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA
DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition
Friday, January 17th, 2014 from 4-7pm

Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Join us for an evening of community service art-making on Friday, Jan. 17th from 4-7pm at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA, for DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition, the second in a series of five free family community service nights!

What better gift to receive in the winter than a warm pair of handmade mittens or cozy handmade scarf; and what better gift to give to someone in your community than something you have lovingly made?

On Friday, January 17th from 4-7pm, Hilltown Families will be hosting a Free Family Community Service Night with The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls.  We are inviting families to join us for an evening of DIY Mittens & Scarves for Families in Transition. Come with an outgrown felted wool sweater, and/or fleece outerwear to be repurposed into easy-to-sew mittens and scarves to donate to New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT).  No previous experience is needed and there will be tasks for all ages… Join Us!

6th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 6th Annual
Community Handmade Valentine Swap

Hilltown Families 6th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! Free to sign up and open to all. Deadline to sign up: Jan 31st. Join us!

It’s that time of the year again! For the past six years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Making handmade valentines is a great way to push against the commercialization of yet another holiday, while being creative with your family and friends. Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families in western Massachusetts!

A handmade valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive handmade valentines from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.  All are welcomed!

Deadline to sign up (below) is Friday, January 31st. On Saturday (02/01/14), you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices:

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If interested in participating, the information below must be filled out and submitted by Friday, January 31st.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please register each person separately. Click here to sign up!

‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ with Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective
Winter 2014 ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’
January 11th, February 8th & March 11th

The Saturday Morning Music Party begins again for the second year in a row! Come shake off your cabin fever with a pancake breakfast, screening of an 80s-era cult-classic kids’ TV show (can you guess which one?) and a dance party with DJ Youthelectronix! Oh, and did we mention… it’s FREE!!! Join Hilltown Families and Flywheel in Easthampton on Saturday, January 11th at 10am!

Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton are reviving the beloved ‘Saturday Morning Music Party’ series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, performances and diversions for kids! The Music Party Series will include three events this winter: January 11, February 8 (as part of Easthampton’s Fire & Ice Festival), and March 11, 2014.

JANUARY 11th: The first of three installments of the Saturday Morning Music Party begins on Saturday, January 11th at 10am at Flywheel Arts Collective located in the old town hall in Easthampton (43 Main Street). This event is free and open to people of all ages.

Following a free breakfast of pancakes, juice, and fruit, the January 11th event features a screening of an episode of an 80s-era cult-classic kids’ television show (can you guess which one?). After the show, kids can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.”  Get the kids moving and shaking off the winter blues… Read the rest of this entry »

A Serving of Art: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night
at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA
A Serving of Art: Placemat Making
Friday, December 13th from 4-7pm

Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Join us for an evening of community service on Friday, Dec. 13th in Shelburne Falls at The Art Garden, for A Serving of Art: Placemat Making, the first in a series of five family community service nights!

During the holidays, many families find themselves wanting to give back to their community by supporting food security and connecting with their neighbors. This time of year can also see children with a bad case of the “gimmies.” A family night of community service is one way to support your community while helping children focus on the needs of others. Using art and making your own gifts creates a well rounded recipe for the holidays.

Hilltown Families and The Art Garden will be collaborating again this year in a series of Free Family Community Service Nights! The first in the series will be on Friday, December 13th from 4-7pm: A Serving of Art: Placemat Making.

Join us in Shelburne Falls for an evening of art and community service, making reusable handmade canvas placemats and collecting nonperishable foods, both to donate to Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield, MA. Families will also be invited to make a second canvas placemat to take and give to an elder in their life or a home-bound senior in their community… Find out more about this community service event…

A Serving of Art: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night
at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA
A Serving of Art: Placemat Making
Friday, December 13th from 4-7pm

Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Join us for an evening of community service on Friday, Dec. 13th in Shelburne Falls at The Art Garden, for A Serving of Art: Placemat Making, the first in a series of five family community service nights!

During the holidays, many families find themselves wanting to give back to their community by supporting food security and connecting with their neighbors. This time of year can also see children with a bad case of the “gimmies.” A family night of community service is one way to support your community while helping children focus on the needs of others. Using art and making your own gifts creates a well rounded recipe for the holidays.

Hilltown Families and The Art Garden will be collaborating again this year in a series of Free Family Community Service Nights! The first in the series will be on Friday, December 13th from 4-7pm: A Serving of Art: Placemat Making.

Join us in Shelburne Falls for an evening of art and community service, making reusable handmade canvas placemats and collecting nonperishable foods, both to donate to Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield, MA. Families will also be invited to make a second canvas placemat to take and give to an elder in their life or a home-bound senior in their community… Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families 4th Annual Board Game Swap

Hilltown Families
Community Board Game Swap

A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for friends and family too. Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to everyone.

On Saturday, December 7th, 2013 from 9:30-11am, Hilltown Families is sponsoring a free Board Game Swap in the community room at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. All community members are invited to bring in complete board games they’d like to swap.

Swapping board games with other families gives the community a chance to come together and discover new games while rejuvenating their collection of board games. Having new board games to explore with our kids opens up opportunities for families to spend time together, while allowing children to practice skills and concepts.  Puzzles and card games are welcomed too.  Any leftover complete games, puzzles and card games will be donated to the Meekins Library Holiday Market.

What: Hilltown Families Board Game Swap
Where: Meekins Library Community Room (Route 9, Williamsburg, MA)
When: Saturday, December 7th, 2013
Time: 9:30-11am
Cost: Free
Who: All are welcomed!

Kids Day of Community Service Benefits Many!

Hilltown Families &  Whole Foods Market
Kids Day of Community Service Benefits Many!

This past Saturday at Atlas Farm in Deerfield, Hilltown Families collaborated with Whole Foods Market and brought families together in the fields for a day of community service, gleaning 669 POUNDS of organic kale, collards, chard and broccoli leftover from a recent harvest to donate to the Food Bank of Western MA!

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This community service-based learning experience is one in a string of events Hilltown Families has organized over the past year in a effort to support food security in the region, offering families opportunities to participate in community service together. Last September (2012), Hilltown Families organized a field trip to the Food Bank of Western MA where families were able to see how the Food Bank operates while learning about food security efforts in the region and participating in hands-on community service projects. This past May (2013) at the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event we partnered with Grow Food Northampton and empowered families to grow an extra row of vegetables in their home gardens to harvest and donate to their local food pantries.

When Whole Foods Market in Hadley approached Hilltown Families this summer with the idea of collaborating in a community service event during Hunger Action Month, we wanted to tie it in to this theme of supporting food security in the region.  We suggested collaborating with a local farm and organizing a trip to glean left over vegetables from their fields to donate to The Food Bank. Atlas Farm, a local vendor at Whole Foods Market, welcomed the idea and together we were able to bring in families and glean 669 pounds of organic vegetable! Whole Kids Foundation provided a build-your-own salad-bar lunch following work in the field, giving families a chance to enjoy healthy eating together.

“Hilltown Families and Whole Foods Market Kids Day of Community Service was a wonderful service learning experience for my son,” writes Ronna Kullberg of Northampton, MA. “Not only did he get a deeper understanding of community involvement, but a closer look at where his food comes from. Terrific experience all around!”

Collaborating in the creation of community service experiences gives Western MA families opportunities to be engaged in their community.  This directly supports Hilltown Families mission to nurture and create resilient and sustainable communities by developing and strengthening a sense of place in our children and citizens.  Whole Foods Market in Hadley has consistently been a supporter of the community building work of Hilltown Families and we thank them for their ongoing support and service to our community!

In this video, volunteer Andy Wallace covered a couple of Hilltown Families community service events, including our collaboration with the Art Garden for Flowers for Friends,  and our Family Community Service Event this past May. Check it out and get a glimpse into the mission of Hilltown Families and how community service-based learning is an important piece of community engagement and in developing a sense of place in our children:

Thank you Andy Wallace for the video and Steve Roslonek of SteveSongs for the soundtrack!

Hilltown Families & Whole Foods Market Kids’ Day of Community Service: Join us!

Kids’ Day of Community Service with
Hilltown Families & Whole Foods Market
at Atlas Farm in Deerfield, MA
Saturday, Sept. 7th from 11am-2pm

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Registration Ends September 5th, 2013

Kids’ Day of Community Service is a free, family-friendly 2-hour project with tasks for everyone ages 2 and up.  Join us in a service learning opportunity, giving kids a hands-on look at how their food is grown while supporting the food security efforts of the Food Bank of Western MA. Space is limited and all participating families are asked to pre-register online.

Last September, Hilltown Families organized a field trip to the Food Bank of Western MA where families were able to see how the Food Bank operates while learning about food security efforts in the region.  Families were also able to participate in community service projects during their visit by lending a hand with sorting food donations and with preparations for the Food Bank’s annual “Will Bike 4 Food” Fundraiser.

One of the issues participants learned during this field trip was how difficult it can be for some families to have access to fresh organic fruits and vegetables.  This past May at our Family Community Service Event we partnered with Grow Food Northampton and empowered families to grow an extra row of vegetables in their home gardens to harvest and donate to their local food pantries.

Coming up this September, in collaboration with Whole Foods Market in Hadley and Atlas Farm in Deerfield, families are invited to come together again on Saturday, September 7th, 2013 from 11am-2pm in Deerfield for a day of community service, gleaning organic vegetables leftover from a recent harvest to donate to the Food Bank. We will also be rolling up our sleeves to help prepare the Farm for winter.  Jerod Shuford, the Education Coordinator at the Food Bank, will be attending our Kids’ Day of Community Service, speaking to families about food security in the region and how they can continue to support the work of the Food Bank…

Read the rest of this entry »

25 Community Highlights: Mother’s Day to Mamadrama. Steamboat Bill to Beaver Ponds.

Sunday is Mother’s Day! If you’re looking for ideas for getting out on Mother’s Day, we have a few suggestions

Mother’s Day to Plant Something Campaign. Mamadrama to Steamboat Bill. Beaver Ponds to Fishways… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Brunch, Hike & Celebrate for Mother’s Day

Not up for breakfast in bed, then head out for breakfast or brunch.  We asked our readers for family friendly restaurant recommendations for Mother’s Day and they had several to offer. Check out Mother’s Day Brunch to see their suggestions… and add one of your own.

After breakfast/brunch, celebrate Mother’s Day by taking her to one of the many gorgeous gardens dotted throughout Western Massachusetts including the Bridge of Flower in Shelburne Falls, one of the Commonwealth’s most unusual and enchanting “gardens” is found in Franklin County.  Read our post The Art of Great Gardens in Western MA for a list of recommended public gardens in the region.

Looking for other ideas?  Check out our Mother’s Day Highlights!


Mother’s Day HighlightsAnimal StudiesLocal HistoryNature StudiesFilm StudiesPlant SalesParent Workshop


Read the rest of this entry »

Community Conversation: Talking to Your Kids About Sex, Part 3

Hilltown Families presents…

“Puberty for Parents”
part of the Talking to Your Kids About Sex Series
of Community Conversations with Brooke Norton
Held at Cup & Top Café in Florence
Tuesday, May 21st from 6:30-8:30pm

Hilltown Families and Cup and Top Café are presenting a series of free talks for parents with Brooke Norton and Jane Fleishman, MS, Certified Sex Educators. Continuing with this series, the third talk, Puberty for Parents, will focus on the physical changes, social impacts and emotional aspects of puberty. Brooke and Jane will also touch upon sexual orientation and coming out, and what parents can teach their kids about consent.

“Puberty for Parents” will take place on Tuesday, May 21st after hours at the café from 6:30pm-8:30pm (1 North Main Street) in Florence, MA.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event Generates 450 Hours of Community Service in a Single Morning… and a whole lotta fun!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event Gives Back!

This past Saturday, May 4th, was the second Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event, a one of a kind event for families to volunteer together at seven different community service stations in a single morning!

From teens to tots to grandparents, together families were able to generate 450 hours of community service at this intergenerational event for different non-profit and community organizations in our region that work on behalf of animal welfare, conservation and food security.  Held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton, MA, families traveled from station to station with Passport in hand, participating in facilitated hands-on projects:

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Thank you to all of the families, volunteers and facilitators who joined us! The event was a great success with 150 folks participating in a fun morning of community service.  And thank you to WGGB ABC 40 for coming out and covering the event for the 6 o’clock news!

Together we were able to:

  • Make 46 bluebird house to donate to Franklin Land Trust!
  • Braid 50 fleece chews to donate to Kane’s Krusade to be distributed in their C.A.R.E. (Canine Assistance, Resources and Education) Kits!
  • Fill a couple bags full of handmade catnip toys for cats waiting for adoption at the Dakin Humane Society!
  • Upcycle & take 50 old tshirts into Giving Bags to collect nonperishable food to donate to local food pantries!
  • Make & take egg cartons full of seed bombs for promoting conservation!
  • Plant & take 50 seedlings and seeds while promoting the idea of sowing an extra row of food in family gardens to grow and harvest for local food pantries.
  • Write letters to legislators on issues of animal welfare, conservation and food security.



VOLUNTEERS WANTED

We look forward to hosting another Family Community Service Event, but we can’t do it without your help!  Want to join our Community Service Committee? We want to hear from you: Read the rest of this entry »

Mother’s Day Mementos: Free Friday Family Event with Hilltown Families

Mother’s Day Mementos: Free Family Friday Night Event with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, May 10th from 4-7pm

Join us on Friday, May 10th at the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls for a free, intergenerational community building art event that celebrates Mother’s and creativity!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Hilltown Families presents a free family Friday night event, Mother’s Day Mementos, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, May 10th from 4-7pm.

Come make handmade cards and gifts to give to the mothers in your life. Bring the kids and join your neighbors in a free community art event, making handmade tokens of appreciation for your spouse, mother, grandmother, or other mothers in your life. Let them know they are appreciated while getting creative with your kids!  And if you’d like, bring along a photocopied image of mothers you’d like to honor to include in your memento too!

This is the third of a series of three Free Friday Family Nights that Hilltown Families and The Art Garden are offering.  All materials included and everyone is invited to join in this community building event that honors the mother in your life.

The Art Garden is located at 14 Depot Street, Suite 2 in Shelburne Falls, MA (in the same building as the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum.).   SEE MAP.  Questions?  Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: May 4th!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event
Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm
Leeds Elementary School in Northampton, MA

Volunteer with your family to help local non-profits in a single free event on Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm during the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event, held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton— a one of a kind event for families to volunteer together while educating children about animal welfare, conservation efforts and the value of community service. Space is limited, so reserve a spot for your family today!
“Our mission is to give families service based learning experiences by collaborating with local non-profits and community organizations in a single event,” says Sienna Wildfield, Executive Director of Hilltown Families. “Many families are interested in volunteering together but may find it difficult due to either a limit in time or to a lack of opportunities. Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event is for all ages and is a fun way for families to volunteer together. It’s also an avenue for parents to discuss and educate their children on important community issues and the value of volunteering on behalf of animals and the environment.”

Join Hilltown Families for a Saturday morning of volunteering together with your family during our spring Family Community Service Event on Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm in Northampton, MA!

This past fall at our inaugural Family Community Service Night we focused on human service organizations and families had a great time working together in support of several local non-profits.

Our spring event on Saturday, May 4th will be held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton. We will be offering seven volunteer stations for families to participate in hands-on service projects for ALL AGES that support animal welfare organizations, conservation efforts and food security. Families will also be able to bring home several of their service projects to continue their community service together from home.

With a Community Service Passport in hand, families can travel to each station and have their Passport stamped after completing their service project. In their Passports parents will find conversation starters, online resources and recommended reading lists for each station, and children can share what they liked best about each project by filling in their Passport. Parents can use the Passport to help guide youth participants in learning about animal welfare, conservation efforts and food security.

Our Spring Volunteer Stations include:

  1. BIRD HOUSE BUILDING: Bluebird houses will be constructed on site to be donated to the Franklin Land Trust. Families can help assemble & sand houses… something for all ages. (Facilitated by the Northampton High School Woodworking Club)
  2. FELINE FUN: Make catnip toys for cats to be donated to the Dakin Humane Society for cats waiting for adoption. (Facilitated by Dakin Humane Society)
  3. FLEECE CHEWS FOR CANINES: Make and donate chew toys for dogs of families in need with Kane’s Krusade. (Facilitated by Give a Hoot Pets)
  4. SOW AN EXTRA ROW: Learn about growing extra food in your family garden plot or container gardens to harvest and donate to a local food pantry. Go home with a plant starter and seeds to plant and nurture this summer. (Facilitated by Grow Food Northampton)
  5. SEED BOMBS: Create dirt bombs with native wildflower seeds to use for promoting natural habitats for pollinators. Go home with your very on seed bombs! (Facilitated by Help Yourself!)
  6. GIVING BAGS: Upcycle old t-shirts into giving bags to take home for collecting food for animal shelters, food pantries or other service organization in need of donations. (Facilitated by Knack)
  7. LETTER WRITING: Learn about the work of participating organizations and write letters of appreciation, or participate in letter writing campaigns. (Facilitated by the Northampton High School Key Club)

Donation Stations: In addition to our volunteer stations, we will have several opportunities for families to bring and donate items from home, including:

  • Cat food & cat toys to be donated to Dakin Humane Society.
  • Dog food to be donated to Kane’s Krusade, including: new, unopened dry dog good (no Beneful or Ol’ Roy, please); canned dog food; and dog treats (no treats form China, please).
  • Baby blankets, receiving blankets, baby wipes & kids polar fleece hats to be donated to Urban Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Pet Adoption: Stop by and visit Dakin Humane Society’s pet adoption station. Families can learn more about Dakin’s services and programs, and the adoption process. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your new furry friend! If a family meets an animal they would like to adopt, they can complete their adoption process at either Dakin’s Springfield or Leverett Adoption Centers.

Food: Cup & Top Cafe will be joining us with food to fuel our volunteering families, selling coffee/tea, beverages, pastries and light lunch fare. So be sure to come hungry (and thirsty!).

Questions? Call 413-961-9367

Read the rest of this entry »

Families Gather to Pay it Forward with Small Acts of Kindness!

Flowers for Friends Combines Art, Spring Blossoms and Small Acts of Kindness

On Friday, April 5th, Hilltown Families and the Art Garden presented a Flowers for Friends Workshop, the second workshop in a 3-part free Friday family workshop series in Shelburne Falls. This past Friday families gathered to paint terracotta flower pots, planting them with violas to pass along to others in their community. Participating families were encouraged to give their flowers to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Paying it forward with a small act of kindness!

❤ Big thank you to Home Depot in Greenfield, Shelburne Farm & Garden, Hadley Garden Center and friends of The Art Garden for their donations and discounts for terracotta pots, soil and Violas!

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Getting creative with family, friends and neighbors in a community art space like The Art Garden, builds relationships, affords opportunities to share and connect, and allows the space for creativity that our otherwise busy lives might not offer.

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: May 4th!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event
Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm
Leeds Elementary School in Northampton, MA

Volunteer with your family to help local non-profits in a single free event on Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm during the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event, held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton— a one of a kind event for families to volunteer together while educating children about animal welfare, conservation efforts and the value of community service. Space is limited, so reserve a spot for your family today!
“Our mission is to give families service based learning experiences by collaborating with local non-profits and community organizations in a single event,” says Sienna Wildfield, Executive Director of Hilltown Families. “Many families are interested in volunteering together but may find it difficult due to either a limit in time or to a lack of opportunities. Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event is for all ages and is a fun way for families to volunteer together. It’s also an avenue for parents to discuss and educate their children on important community issues and the value of volunteering on behalf of animals and the environment.”

Join Hilltown Families for a Saturday morning of volunteering together with your family during our spring Family Community Service Event on Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm in Northampton, MA!

This past fall at our inaugural Family Community Service Night we focused on human service organizations and families had a great time working together in support of several local non-profits.

Our spring event on Saturday, May 4th will be held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton. We will be offering seven volunteer stations for families to participate in hands-on service projects for ALL AGES that support animal welfare organizations, conservation efforts and food security. Families will also be able to bring home several of their service projects to continue their community service together from home.

With a Community Service Passport in hand, families can travel to each station and have their Passport stamped after completing their service project. In their Passports parents will find conversation starters, online resources and recommended reading lists for each station, and children can share what they liked best about each project by filling in their Passport. Parents can use the Passport to help guide youth participants in learning about animal welfare, conservation efforts and food security.

Our Spring Volunteer Stations include:

  1. BIRD HOUSE BUILDING: Bluebird houses will be constructed on site to be donated to the Franklin Land Trust. Families can help assemble & sand houses… something for all ages. (Facilitated by the Northampton High School Woodworking Club)
  2. FELINE FUN: Make catnip toys for cats to be donated to the Dakin Humane Society for cats waiting for adoption. (Facilitated by Dakin Humane Society)
  3. FLEECE CHEWS FOR CANINES: Make and donate chew toys for dogs of families in need with Kane’s Krusade. (Facilitated by Give a Hoot Pets)
  4. SOW AN EXTRA ROW: Learn about growing extra food in your family garden plot or container gardens to harvest and donate to a local food pantry. Go home with a plant starter and seeds to plant and nurture this summer. (Facilitated by Grow Food Northampton)
  5. SEED BOMBS: Create dirt bombs with native wildflower seeds to use for promoting natural habitats for pollinators. Go home with your very on seed bombs! (Facilitated by Help Yourself!)
  6. GIVING BAGS: Upcycle old t-shirts into giving bags to take home for collecting food for animal shelters, food pantries or other service organization in need of donations. (Facilitated by Knack)
  7. LETTER WRITING: Learn about the work of participating organizations and write letters of appreciation, or participate in letter writing campaigns. (Facilitated by the Northampton High School Key Club)

Donation Stations: In addition to our volunteer stations, we will have several opportunities for families to bring and donate items from home, including:

  • Cat food & cat toys to be donated to Dakin Humane Society.
  • Dog food to be donated to Kane’s Krusade, including: new, unopened dry dog good (no Beneful or Ol’ Roy, please); canned dog food; and dog treats (no treats form China, please).
  • Baby blankets, receiving blankets, baby wipes & kids polar fleece hats to be donated to Urban Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Pet Adoption: Stop by and visit Dakin Humane Society’s pet adoption station. Families can learn more about Dakin’s services and programs, and the adoption process. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your new furry friend! If a family meets an animal they would like to adopt, they can complete their adoption process at either Dakin’s Springfield or Leverett Adoption Centers.

Food: Cup & Top Cafe will be joining us with food to fuel our volunteering families, selling coffee/tea, beverages, pastries and light lunch fare. So be sure to come hungry (and thirsty!).

Questions? Call 413-961-9367

Read the rest of this entry »

Flowers for Friends: Free Friday Family Workshop with Hilltown Families

Flowers for Friends: Family Workshop
with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden
Friday, April 5th from 4-7pm

Share a small act of kindness to another! Decorate pots and plant posies to pass along to others in your community with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 4th from 4-7pm (FREE).

In the spirit of spreading kindness to others, Hilltown Families presents a free family workshop, Flowers for Friends, at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls on Friday, April 5th from 4-7pm.  Families are invite to join neighbors & friends in a free community art event, painting terracotta flower pots to plant with pansies and pass along to another in their community.

Participating families are encouraged to give their posy to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice.  — Pay it forward with a small act of kindness!

This is the second of a series of three Free Friday Family Nights that Hilltown Families and The Art Garden are offering this winter/spring.  All materials included.  Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration required.

Sign up. WE’RE FULL!

Registration for Flowers for Friends has been closed as our maximum allowance of participants has been filled.  If you would like to be put on our waiting list to be contacted if a family cancels, please submit your information below:

The Art Garden is located at 14 Depot Street, Suite 2 in Shelburne Falls, MA (in the same building as the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum.).   SEE MAP.  Questions?  Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Arts Collective Present a Saturday Morning Music Party!

Hilltown Families & Flywheel Present…
SATURDAY MORNING MUSIC PARTY
Feb 9th Feb 10th & March 16th in Easthampton, MA

The Saturday Morning Music Party is now the SUNDAY Morning Music Party! We’ve moved the party to Sunday, February 10th at 10am. Come shake off your cabin fever with a pancake breakfast, screening of an 80s-era cult-classic kids’ TV show (can you guess which one?) and a dance party with DJ Youthelectronix! Oh, and did we mention… it’s FREE!!! Join Hilltown Families and Flywheel in Easthampton this Sunday!

Known to its neighbors and fans for boisterous concerts and a DIY aesthetic, the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton may not immediately spring to mind when considering a family-friendly activity for the kids. But with the announcement of the ‘Saturday Morning Music Party,’ a breakfast bash featuring dancing, performances and diversions for kids (to take place during February and March), Flywheel offers just that.

Partnering with Hilltown Families, Flywheel kicks off the first of two installments of the Saturday Morning Music Party at 10am on February 9th, Sunday, February 10th, 2013 at their headquarters in the town hall building at 43 Main Street in Easthampton, MA. This event is free and open to families and kids of all ages. The second event in the series takes place on March 16.

Following breakfast, the Feb. 9 Feb. 10 event features a screening of a classic episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, an 80s-era, cult-classic kids’ television show. After the show, kids join DJ Youthelectronix for the best ever dance party before noon.

Dj Youthelectronix, a.k.a. Jeremy Smith, a veteran Flywheel volunteer, led the effort to organize the Saturday Morning Music Party series in 2012. Driven to recreate the success of similar Saturday morning activities at Flywheel’s previous location, Smith says, “We started the Saturday Morning Music Party to provide families with an affordable, fun activity that was enjoyable for adults as well as kids. We hope that families from all over the Valley will attend.” He’s particularly proud of the “diverse programming” to be offered, which is anything but the rote kids’ fare.

The March 16 event features a pancake breakfast at 10 followed by a live performance of Shiprock and Anchordog, a mixed media performance of theater and video set to music in the Americana vein about the story of two dog heroes and their adventures through forests, oceans and dreamscapes. The March 16th event costs $10 per family to cover band expenses.

Families Gather to Make Handmade Valentines in Shelburne Falls

MYO Handmade Valentine Workshop
Brings Families Together

On Friday, January 25th, Hilltown Families and the Art Garden presented a Make Your Own Handmade Valentines Workshop, as part of a 3-part free Friday family workshop series in Shelburne Falls. Families with children of all ages gathered to make Valentines together.

Getting crafty with family, friends and neighbors in a community art space like The Art Garden, builds relationships, affords opportunities to share and connect, and allows the space for creativity that our otherwise busy lives might not offer.

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Join in the Swap!

Hilltown Families 5th Annual Handmade Community Valentine SwapThere’s still time to sign up to participate in the Hilltown Families 5th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Push back against the commercialization of Valentine’s Day while getting creative with your kids and connecting with your community… sign up to participate! Swapping happens through the mail with 10 other families! It’s free to sign up and open to all in Western MA. Deadline to sign up: Jan. 31, 2013. Western MA (FREE)

Community Conversation: Talking to Your Kids About Sex, Part 2

Hilltown Families presents…

Talking to Your Kids About Sex
A Community Conversation at Cup & Top Café
Evening of Tuesday, January 29th in Florence

Hilltown Families and Cup and Top Café are presenting a series of free talks for parents with Brooke Norton, Certified Sex Educator. Continuing with this series, the second talk will continue to look at how to talk with your kids about sex in an age appropriate way.  This talk will take place on Tuesday, January  29th after hours at the café from 6:30pm-8:30pm (1 North Main Street) in Florence, MA.

Brooke would like to invite all parents to attend, regardless of their personal values about sex and sexuality. “All value systems will be honored and respected,” says Brooke. “My whole mission is just to encourage parents to start thinking about how they want to guide their children, and then to get them to start talking as well,” she added.

In the first talk in this series, some of the questions Brooke addressed included:

  • What information is appropriate for my kids’ age?
  • When is a good time to start talking with my child about sex?
  • How do I react when my child asks about something that I am not comfortable with?

Brooke will touch on these questions again and continue the conversation by address additional questions, like:

  • How do we deal with technology and the media and its influence on our kids’ views of sex?
  • How much does my kid need to know about sex?
  • How can I start the conversation?

Co-sponsored by Cup & Top Cafe.

Body image, puberty, and sexual identity issues will be addressed too.

Participants are encouraged to purchase dinner from the cafe (gluten-free & vegan options available) between 6:30-7pm.  The talk begins at 7pm.  Parents who are considering attending should be advised not to bring their children along to this parents-only event. For more information, please contact Brooke Norton at 413-684-8697 or email brookenorton712@gmail.com.

Cup & Top Cafe is located at 1 North Main Street in Florence, MA.

5th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 5th Annual
Community Handmade Valentine Swap

Hilltown Families 5th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! Free to sign up and open to all. Deadline to sign up: Jan 31st.

It’s that time of the year again! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families!

A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive handmade Valentines from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.  All are welcomed!

Deadline to sign up (below) is Thursday, January 31st. On Friday (02/01/13)  you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade Valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of Valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger image:

If interested in participating, the following information must be filled out and submitted by Thursday, January 31st.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please register each person separately.

SIGN UP:












Be sure to click on the submit button above!  You should receive a personal confirmation within 24 hours.  If you do not receive a confirmation within 24 hours, email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com to inquire.

Local Families Give 300 Hours of Community Service!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Thank you to all of the families who joined us for the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night this past Friday evening, November 30, 2012! The event was a great success with nearly 150 folks joining us for a fun evening of community service.  By spending a couple of hours helping out in hands-on projects at five different stations, participating families were able to give 300 hours of service to our community!

Together we were able to:

  • Make 10 blankets to donate to Safe Passage!
  • Fill 50 bags with personal care items to donate to Northampton Survival Center!
  • Decorate over 100 place mats to give to homebound elders through the Meals on Wheels program!
  • Create cards & fill 50 bags with fun items for kids at Bay Sate Children’s Hospital!
  • Decorate 50 pots planted with paperwhites to pass along to a community member or community space!

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AT HOME: Equally as important, families learned how they can be of service to their community on their own:

  • Families can fill ziplock bags with personal care items or healthy snacks & water to carry with them to give to a person in need they might meet while traveling around town.
  • A family can make no-sew fleece blankets as a family project to donate to a local shelter.
  • Cards can be made at home to be sent to a child in the hospital, or homebound elders in their community.
  • A random act of kindness, like giving a planted paperwhite to your library, nursing home, school, or elder in your neighborhood, can bring joy and beauty to others, and is a fun creative project families can do together.

MORE IDEAS: Read the rest of this entry »

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