Volunteer Engagement During Thanksgiving Cultivates Community Building Through Service-Based Learning

Thanksgiving Holiday Offers Opportunity of Meaningful Community Service in Western MA

As Thanksgiving approaches, families can integrate food-related community service into their schedules in order to honor the role that food plays in the holiday’s celebration. From community meals to food pantries to other food-related community resources, opportunities abound for families to engage in service or to participate in a community-building meal.

Healthy living requires not only healthy food, but access to food in general. For many families in western Massachusetts, access to food is provided by community organizations that run food pantries and community meals. These organizations – vital to our communities – depend on community support, and rely on donations and volunteers in order to provide the essential services that they offer. This Thanksgiving, families can participate in community service by helping out with a community meal offered by a local organization. Taking place in numerous locations and hosted by a range of different organizations, community Thanksgiving meals help to offer a special meal to those who may not be able to prepare one on their own, who might not have anyone to share Thankgiving dinner with, and also offer families an opportunity to engage in an intergenerational holiday celebration with a diverse group of people.

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Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: November 22nd!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: November 22nd!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event
Saturday, November 22nd 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, November 22nd 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 important social issues and the value of community service. — We are all filled and registration has been closed.

Hilltown Families will be hosting a Saturday morning of family volunteering during our fall Family Community Service Event on Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm in Northampton, MA!

Two years ago was our inaugural Family Community Service Night where we focused on human service organizations, and last year was our Spring Family Community Service Event where we focused on animal welfare and food security. Through both events, families were able to put in 750 hours of community service!  Check out this great video that shares the joy and excitement families experienced together while engaged in volunteerism for their community at two of our family community service events… and then make plans to join us for our newest event this fall!

Our third community service event will be on Saturday, November 22nd and will again be held at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton.  We will be offering five volunteer stations for families to participate in hands-on service projects for ALL AGES that support education, children’s welfare, and human services.  Families will also be able to bring home one of their service projects to continue their community service together from home.

Find out more! Sign up your family!

Global Youth Service Day

Global Youth Service Day
Community Service-Based Learning

Families interested in participating in community service can use Global Youth Service Day as an opportunity to choose a cause and begin donating their time and efforts to it.

Every single day, kids are making a difference in their communities. Whether it’s through collecting donations for a food bank, volunteering to walk dogs at a local animal shelter, delivering meals to senior citizens, or helping to raise awareness and support for an important cause, kids can (and do) accomplish some really wonderful things through community service. Not only do such efforts benefit communities, they also help kids to learn important lessons about fairness and equality, community activism, and leadership.

This year, GenerationOn honors the efforts of youth around the world with Global Youth Service Day – an event designed to celebrate kid-lead projects and to encourage youth to become engaged in service within their communities. Taking place from April 11th-13th, 2014, Global Youth Service Day honors youth on six continents and in over 135 countries for their service. In addition to celebrating efforts that are already being made, Global Youth Service Day is designed to promote community service and to draw in youth as volunteers to support a wide variety of causes.
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Children’s Volunteer Morning at The Food Bank

Children’s Volunteer Morning at The Food Bank
Monday, December 23rd, 2013

This community service-based learning opportunity will take place during school vacation week on Monday, December 23rd, 2013, and offers kids and their families a chance to volunteer together while learning about food security and the important work the Food Bank does to support food security in the region.

1 in 5 children in Western Massachusetts live in food insecure households. The holidays are a particularly difficult time for families in need, who must juggle higher heating costs, children needing more meals at home (instead of at school), and recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), all while trying to put food on the table and make the holidays a special time for the whole family.

You and your family can help the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provide food for your neighbors in need during a special Children’s Volunteer Morning in Hatfield.   Find out more…

Dog House Build Off! Community Service for Animal Welfare.

Volunteers Sought for Doghouse-Building Event to Aid Dogs in Need

Kane’s Krusade, a nonprofit organization that helps dogs in need in the greater Springfield area, is seeking volunteers to assist with a doghouse-building event on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 from 8am-4pm. The purpose of the event is to successfully build seven doghouses that are fully insulated, raised off the ground and weather proof. The doghouses built by volunteers will be donated to provide insulated shelter for dogs whose owners cannot afford one.

Dogs make fantastic family pets – when trained and lovingly cared for, they are wonderful companions. Pups of all shapes and sizes provide friendship, snuggles, and energetic playtime for families. Pets are, however, affected by the changes that take place within a household and, sometimes, when families experience difficult times, pets’ lives change, too. Luckily, Kane’s Krusade has come to the rescue! Kane’s Krusade offers support and resources for canine-owning community members who love their pets but experience difficulty in properly caring for them. People served by Kane’s Krusade are disabled, elderly, unemployed, and/or living on a fixed income and, without the organization’s help, might be forced to give up their beloved furry friends.

This fall, Kane’s Krusade is offering a unique opportunity for families to help out in supporting dogs in need! In order to ensure that outdoor dogs are safe and healthy during the harsh winters that we experience in New England, the organization is hosting a Dog House Build Off…

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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…

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Get involved! Service-Learning Opportunities in Western MA

Get involved! Service -Learning Opportunities in Western MA

How better to participate and learn through your community than a service-learning project? Service-learning projects can help youth connect with others while learning about their world.

Since just about anything can be a learning experience, this list will include both opportunities where the learning is obvious, along with opportunities where the learning is more subtle.

While there are lots of “Projects,” and opportunities for children to volunteer, why not just ask an organization that you respect if they need some help? Most groups need regular help with administrative tasks, including Hilltown Families. Asking is an easy way to get your family involved in something that you care about. Just about every social service agency, not for profit, and community can benefit from the support of others.

Here are some specific projects to check out:

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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 »

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

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20 Community Service Opportunities in Western MA for Families this Spring

Park Clean Ups & Community Service Activities for Families this Spring in Western MA

In addition to these volunteer park clean-ups and trail maintenance opportunities, Hilltown Families will be hosting a Family Community Service Event on May 4th bringing families together under one roof to participate in hands-on volunteer projects for seven non-profit and community organizations in Western MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

As spring warms the landscape across western Massachusetts, opportunities for outdoor adventures increase exponentially. What would have been a snowshoe trek and bark inspection a month ago has become a woods hike where families can identify plants, trees, and wildlife of all shapes and sizes.

However, as the ground awakes from its snow-covered slumber, trails and parks are in need of some restoration and there are plenty of opportunities for families to volunteer together, including during DCR’s Massachusetts Park Serve Day on Saturday, April 20th, Mass Audubon’s 7th Annual Statewide Volunteer Day on April 27th, and stocking the Connecticut River Watershed with Salmon Fry throughout the spring.

All  of these volunteer opportunities, and many other community service work days, aim to bring together community members for a day of reconnecting with nature and cooperative work while providing service based learning experiences! Community service is a great way to show your appreciation for local resources as a family, and participating in volunteer work can help kids develop a strong commitment to their community and their surroundings. Kids can use volunteer work to learn useful skills for everything from hands-on tasks (like trail maintenance) to social skills (such as working in intergenerational settings).

20 Community Service Opportunities in Western MA this Spring

  • Wednesday, April 10th from 5:30-7pm: Families with older children and train with the Housatonic Valley Association to be part of their Stream Team Project volunteer crew.  Walk or paddle a stretch of the river and report your findings.  Interest meeting at the Dewey Memorial Building. 413-394-9796. Sheffield, MA
  • Saturday, April 13th from 9am-12noon: Look Park is open for the season, but the grounds need some attention!  There are leaves & down branches galore from the October blizzard that need to be cleaned up.  Bring your family and come to the park ready to work (BYO rake and gloves).  Your help ensures that the park remains a valued community resource!  413-727-8457.  300 North Main Street.  Florence, MA.
  • Sunday, April 14th from 1-4pm:  Looking for a way to give back to your community by volunteering with your family? How about a spring clean-up? Greenfield Energy Park’s opening performance will be its annual spring clean-up. Greenthumbers invites families with children of all ages to come and join the fun. Some tools will be provided, but please bring your favorite clippers, rake, shovel, tarp or bucket. 413-774-5667. Energy Park.  Greenfield, MA
  • Wednesday, April 17th from 5-6:45pm: Families with older children can train with the Housatonic Valley Association to be part of their Stream Team Project volunteer crew.  Walk or paddle a stretch of the river and report your findings.  Interest meeting at the Mason Library. 413-394-9796. Great Barrington, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 8am-1pm Earth Day Cleanup!  Meet at the Masonic Lodge and volunteer for the morning cleaning up the environment.  Families welcomed.  Bring waterproof boots, work gloves, and a desire to help clean the environment! Meet at the Masonic Lodge. 413-572-6281. 72 Broad Street. Westfield, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9-11am: Clean up Whately for Earth Day!  Bring the kids and pick up roadside litter debris.  Meet outside of the Town Hall (rain date: 4/21). Whately, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-12noon: Families with children ages 10 and older are invited to the annual Meadows Spring clean-up at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary.  Working out in the field, wear work clothes and bring gloves & water. Pre-register. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA 
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-1pm: Clean up the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail! Families with children ages 8yo and older can assist with cleaning up the trail and landscaping. Call for exact location: 413-499-7003. Cheshire, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-1pm: Chicopee State Park clean up!  Families with children ages 8yo and older can help plant flowers, spread mulch, stain picnic talbes and do general trail maintenance.  Meet at the DCR Park Headquarters. 413-594-9416. 570 Burnett Rd. Chicopee, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-1pm: Lend a hand to The Trustees of Reservations sprucing up Peaked Mountain.  Bring work gloves, water & snack.  Call to pre-register. : 413-532-1631 x21. Butler Road. Monson, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9am-2pm: Join the patrons of the Ramsdell Library for a day of cleaning up along the banks of the Housatonic River.  Meet at the library for an assigned route to clean-up. Pizza at the Brick House at noon for all volunteers. Screening of “Fold, Crumple, Crush” in the library theater at 2pm. 413-274-3738. 1087 Main Street. Great Barrington, MA
  • Saturday, April 20th from 9:30am-1pm: Families with older children can help clean up DAR State Forest.  Help prepare for the upcoming camping season by raking campsites & day use picnic areas.  Meet at the campground pavilion. 413-268-7098. Route 112. Goshen, MA

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Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: May 4, 2013

Click here to find out how this wonderful community-service event went: 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
Saturday, May 4, 2013 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 »

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night Featured in the Daily Hampshire Gazette

Hilltown Families event at Bridge Street School
links community service and family fun
By Barbara Solow, Daily Hampshire Gazette

NORTHAMPTON (Dec 3, 2012) — City resident Margaret Martin said she brought her two granddaughters, 9 and 6, to a community event at Bridge Street School last Friday to “get them out and about and helping people.”

Victoria Worth of Ashfield was there with her 9-year-old daughter to learn more about the work of local social service agencies.

Phoebe Burch, also 9, of Petersham, said she came with her mom and two younger siblings because “it’s important to make other people happy.”

The Nov. 30 Community Service Night, hosted by Hilltown Families, drew more than 150 families to the city elementary school on Parsons Street. From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Bridge Street’s cafeteria was transformed into a one-stop volunteer station, where participants worked on simple, hands-on service projects for local nonprofits.

Organizations benefiting from the first-time service night were the Northampton Survival Center, Highland Valley Elder Services, Safe Passage and Baystate Children’s Hospital.

Tabletop projects ranged from tying knots for “no sew” fleece blankets to creating care bags for sick children. After visiting each station, participants got special service “passports” stamped by members of the Northampton High School Key Club, who were volunteer staffers for the event. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

10 Ways to Give Back & Support Your Community Around Thanksgiving

News & Information on Service Learning, Community Service, & Family Volunteering Opportunities Around Thanksgiving Day

Looking for ways to give back to your community during the holidays. Here are 10 ideas we’ve shared this week on the Hilltown Families Facebook Page.  Ideas range from volunteering with your family for a single evening to hosting an elderly person in your home, and span the four counties of Western MA. There’s also information to share with families in need that you may know.

Do you have a volunteer or community service opportunity for families, children or teens you’d like to share, or have an idea on how families can give back to their community? We want to hear from you!  Email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

FAMILY SERVICE NIGHT

Volunteering as a family is a great way to make memories together & helps teach kids about the importance of giving back. This holiday season join us for Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night on Fri, Nov 30 for a fun evening visiting 5 different volunteer stations, each offering a simple, hands-on service project for all ages. Space is limited & preregistration required for this free event. Sign up soon! Big thank you to our sponsors, Northampton Public Schools/CFCE through a grant from the MA Department of Early Education and Care, Florence Savings Bank & Greenfield Savings Bank for making this night possible! – Want to join us for this special night of community service? Space is limited, so sign up now!

TIN CAN DRIVE

How many tin cans might you have to recycle after preparing your Thanksgiving Dinner? Rather than recycle, why not REUSE? Knack: The Art of Clever Reuse is holding an empty can drive for a volunteer station they are facilitating at the Hilltown Families Family Community Service Night. Please drop off clean tin cans at the Knack Holiday Pop-up shop this Saturday, November 24th from 10am-4pm in the gorgeous space of the Parlor Room, a new music venue at Signature Sounds Recordings, 32 Masonic Street, Northampton, MA.

FOOD DRIVE

On-air Food Drive… Stop by the WHAI or WPVQ studios on Tuesday, November 20 from 6am – 11am to drop off your non-perishable food items for The Food Bank of Western MA. Breakfast items and coffee will be served.

TURKEYS FOR FAMILIES IN NEED

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and the Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry still has turkeys available for families in need! If you need assistance this holiday season or know of a family in need, please send them to the Community Center. Pantry hours for Nov 19-21: Monday from 9am-12noon & 4-7pm; Tuesday from 9am-12noon; Wednesday 9am-5pm.

COMMUNITY DINNER

Do you or someone you know need a hot, home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving Day? Come and enjoy a congregate meal at the William J O’Brien Dinner at the Athol American Legion, corner of Exchange Street and Pequoig Avenue in Athol. Great company, great food, and drop-in’s are welcome. Come early and enjoy a cup of coffee. Transportation is available. For reservations, please call the Athol Council on Aging at 978-249-8986.

MITTEN TREE

The Springfield City Library system will be collecting new mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats in its annual Library Mitten Tree project. Help warm the hearts and hands of area children by making a donation at the Central Library Children’s Room or at any Springfield City Library branch. Donated items are distributed to area groups such as the Red Cross – Pioneer Valley Chapter, the Gray House, and Springfield Partners for Community Action, Inc.. Donations will be accepted from Dec 1 until Jan 6, 2013. Many of this year’s donations will be handmade by the “Knit Lits,” a group of knitters and crocheters who meet every Friday from 10-11:30 a.m. at the East Springfield Branch Library, and also by the “Knit Alongs,” who meet Wednesdays at 1 p.m. at the East Forest Park Branch Library, 122 Island Pond Road. Newcomers are welcome to join either of the groups, with current members willing to teach knitting and crocheting. For more information about the Mitten Tree Project call the Central Library Children’s Room, 413-263-6828, x201, or stop in: 220 State Street, Springfield.

COMMUNITY BUILD

The Monterey, Massachusetts ice skating rink behind the fire station will be assembled next Saturday, Nov 24th, from 10am-12noon. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are needed to help attach the side boards and prepare the rink for the January-March season. Hundreds of children, parents, and hockey players enjoy the rink which is managed entirely by volunteers. Its a community effort that needs greater participation to be successful. Please come help and bring a broom, dolly, or cordless drill if possible. For more information, contact Steve at sgraves8@yahoo.com anytime.

PARENT SUPPORT

Parent-child Home Program brings a Home visitor to your home twice a week to show you fun ways to help your child learn through play… Community Action Family Center Programs currently have openings in Greenfield, Turners Falls and Orange areas. Families in the Franklin County town can call for more information or to enroll 413-475-1550.

SOCKS FOR ELDERS

Do you have extra unused socks laying around the house? This year Florence Savings Bankis once again joining forces with Highland Valley Elder Services and other local banks to support the “Socks for Seniors” program to help low-income seniors in the area with new socks. If you wish to contribute to this program, you can drop off pairs of unused socks as at one of our FSB branches or at one of the other participating bank locations between November 1st – 30th. For more information on this great program, visit www.socksforseniors.com

HOST FAMILIES

Adult Family Care (AFC) from Franklin County Home Care (FCHCC) seeks nurturing community homes for young adults and elderly persons unable to live safely at home alone. Host family receives support, monthly stipend and paid vacation. Contact FCHCC to find out more at info@fchcc.org or 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259.

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night!

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night
Friday, November 30th from 4:30-7:30pm
Bridge Street School in Northampton, MA

Volunteer with your family to help local non-profits in a single event on Friday, November 30th from 4:30-7:30pm during the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night— an ideal way for families to have fun together while educating children about social issues and the value of community service. Space is limited so reserve a spot for your family today!
“We were inspired to create this service based learning event as a way of bridging families interested in volunteering together with local human service organizations,” says Sienna Wildfield, Hilltown Families Executive Director.  “Many families are interested in volunteering together but may find it difficult due to either a limit in the amount of time they can commit to volunteering or to a lack of opportunities available to them if their children are younger.  Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night is for all ages and is a fun way for families to volunteer together and an avenue for parents to discuss and educate their children on important social issue and the value of helping others.”

Join Hilltown Families for an evening of volunteering together with your family during our first ever Family Community Service Night!  On Friday, November 30th from 4:30-7:30pm in Northampton, families can come together for a fun evening visiting five different volunteer stations, each offering a simple, hands-on service project for all ages.  Participants can volunteer at all five stations or just a couple, learning about the different human service organizations each station benefits and how they contribute to the greater good of our community.

With a Community Service Passport in hand, families can travel to each station and have their passport stamped after completing a simple community 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 guide youth participants in learning about the social issues like hunger, elder services, and supporting families in transition, while making a real difference in our community.

Beneficiaries of our Family Community Service Night will include the Northampton Survival Center, Highland Valley Elder Services, Safe Passage and Baystate Children’s Hospital.  Families will also be given the opportunity to choose their own beneficiary for one of the stations too!  Volunteers from the Northampton High School Key Club will help facilitate each station, and collaborators include Knack, Northampton ReUse Committee and the Hatfield Library Youth Action Committee.

The Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night is a free event, but limited in space.  Participating families are required to pre-register for this evening of community service.  Slices of pizza will be available for a small donation for participating families.

SIGN UP! WE’RE FULL!

Wow!!!  What a great response!  Unfortunately, due to limited space, we are no longer accepting new registrations.  However, if you would like to be added to our cancellation list (we’ll contact you if space becomes available), or would like to join us for our next Family Community Service Night, complete this form:

Be sure to click SUBMIT.  Thank you for your interest.  We will contact you if we have an opening for our Nov 30th Family Community Service Night, and will let you know about any future nights.


SPONSORS
Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night is a Hilltown Families event and is co-sponsored by Northampton Public Schools/CFCE through a grant from the MA Department of Early Education and Care, Florence Savings Bank and Greenfield Savings Bank.

PARTICIPATING BUSINESSES

Thank you to all of the business who have donated products to the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night, including:

Is your business is interested in becoming a sponsor or donating to the event? Contact Jess Kuttner at jkuttner@hilltownfamilies.org or Sienna Wildfield at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.

Awards Program Honors Students in Grades 5-12 for Outstanding Volunteer Service

18th Annual Search Under Way for Nation’s Top Youth Volunteers

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Find out more about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, meet past and current honorees, and get ideas and information on how you can make your community a better place to live at spirit.prudential.com.

Over the past 17 years, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards have been given to more than 10,000 middle and high school students across the country for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, and serving their communities through many other volunteer activities. The search has begun to identify thousands more who have made meaningful contributions to their communities over the past 12 months, as the awards program kicks off its 18th year.

These awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honor outstanding community service by students in grades 5 through 12 at the local, state and national level.

Young volunteers can apply online at spirit.prudential.com or at www.nassp.org/spirit. Applications must be completed by November 6, 2012 and then submitted to a middle or high school principal, Girl Scout council, county 4-H agent, American Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or affiliate of HandsOn Network. Paper versions of the application form are available by calling 877-525-8491 (toll- free).

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families Field Trip to The Food Bank of Western MA

Field TripOn Saturday, Sept 15th, Hilltown Families partnered with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for a field trip that combined both service-based and community-based learning. Our field trip involved a tour of The Food Bank in Hatfield, MA, led by The Food Bank’s Education Coordinator, Molly Coon. Families got to see the facility up-close and learn how The Food Bank operates, who it serves and individuals can support their mission. The group played games to aid in the understanding of the concepts of hunger and could choose from two hands-on volunteer projects: sorting donations and preparations for The Food Bank’s upcoming fundraiser, “Will Bike 4 Food.”  Here’s a slide show from our visit:

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Interested in joining Hilltown Families on future service-based and/or community-based learning field trips? Email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com to be added to our list of interested families/groups.

Looking for resources to support child(ren)/student’s learning of hunger and food security?  Check these out:

What to organize a field trip for your group to the Food Bank?  Find out more in this post:

What else? Find out how you can donate in your community and fight hunger in your backyard with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Northern Berkshire Youth Mentoring Program Seeks Youth Mentors and Volunteers

Everyone Has Something of Value to Share With a Young Person

Likely you or someone you know has been inspired by a mentor…or by being one. Through mentoring, young people are brought together with caring adults who, along with family, offer guidance, support, and encouragement, nurture social, emotional and problem solving skills, and serve as a role model and advocate. Mentoring definitely makes a big difference, helping school-aged youth stay in school, reduce alcohol and substance abuse, improve self-esteem, academic skills and relationships and find new resources that they might not have found on their own. The time and attention of reliable, patient and dedicated mentors support youth through the most pivotal and challenging times in their lives.

Northern Berkshire Youth Mentoring Program is part of Child Care of the Berkshire’s Family Support Program, working to strengthen our village of enriching community relationships and support services for youth and their families. Our Youth Mentoring Program focuses on building dynamic mentoring relationships in 1:1 and small group settings to expand youths’ interests, joys, strengths and possibilities for the future.

Our Youth Mentoring Program is currently accepting requests for Mentors from youth, ages 8-14, and their families. We are also carefully interviewing kind, dedicated adult volunteers whose experiences, interests, and knowledge will enrich the life of a child. Either in or outside the classroom at local schools, youth or community centers, dedicated community members can volunteer 1-2 hours a week participating in multiple, fun and interesting activities, while receiving ongoing training and support along the way.

If you are interested in joining our village and making a difference in a child’s life…and yours, please call 413-663-6593, or find us on Facebook at North Berkshire Youth Mentoring Program.

- Rachelle Smith, MSW Youth Mentoring Program Director

Community Service: Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum

Families Can Volunteer at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum

Volunteers at the museum provide rides on the trolley and other historic railroad equipment, guide interpretive tours, repair the railroad tracks and are in the process of restoring many of the historic buildings and railroad equipment in the former Boston and Main railroad yard.

Help to preserve local history and an important part of the evolution of transportation by volunteering at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum!

The museum is home to trolleys, a pump car, and information and memorabilia related to local history and the history of train and trolley transportation. Volunteers at the museum can help with many different tasks, depending on skills, interest, and age.

“There are opportunities for almost every interest in railroads and history here at the museum”, says Sam Bartlett.  The museum has an extensive collection of historic rail road equipment which is still used in operation. This includes a hundred year old “pump car” used by track repair crews which also rolls out on the weekends for visitor rides.

Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult (who is also volunteering), but can choose activities based on their abilities and interests. Older kids can train to be pump car operators (12+) or to be motor operators or conductors on trolleys.

There will be a volunteer training session on May 19th, 2012 for new volunteers! Call the museum at 413-625-9443 or visit www.sftm.org for more information.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Brian Fisk]

Community Service: Horizons for Homeless Children

Volunteer Training for Teens with Horizons for Homeless Children

Horizons for Homeless ChildrenDid you know that one in every fifty children in the United States lives without a permanent home?  Horizons for Homeless Children helps children living in shelters across Western Massachusetts by providing play spaces in shelters (places often not child-friendly and devoid of home-like aspects) and offering volunteers to spend time with kids, playing, reading, etc., in the play areas.

Due to the unpredictable nature of life in shelters, the organization asks that volunteers be over the age of 18, or younger teens between 16-18yo to be accompanied by a parent/adult.  However, community members of all ages are invited to attend a volunteer training, which will take place in Springfield, MA from 6-8:30pm on June 5th and 6th, 2012.

For those interested in volunteering, the training will provide the necessary information for beginning work in a shelter.  For those not yet old enough to volunteer, the training offers a unique opportunity to learn about the reality of homelessness in local communities, early childhood development and the emotional and educational needs of young children, and skills for playing with kids.  Information learned at the training can help to put homelessness (and issues causing and/or surrounding it) into perspective for families, and can help attendees understand how such issues affect their community.  Those interested in volunteering are asked to make a commitment of at least two hours per week.  To register for the training or for more information, call 413-532-0467 or e-mail aditmer@horizonsforhomelesschildren.org.

ABOUT HORIZONS FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN

Horizons for Homeless Children is a non-profit agency dedicated to providing programs and services for homeless children in MA. The West Region office installs kid friendly playspaces inside of homeless shelters throughout Western MA, including the Berkshires, Greenfield, Northampton, Amherst, Holyoke, and Springfield. They actively recruit and train volunteers from the community to go into the Playspaces to play with the homeless children.


Great interview on WGBY’s Connecting Point:

Connecting Point writes, “Joanna Carrington, Playspace Programs West Regional Director at Horizons for Homeless Children; Nicole Lussier, Program Director for “Open Pantry” Teen Living Program in Springfield; and Playspace Activity Leader Denise Donnelly discuss the efforts to assist homeless kids through creation of playspaces at shelters –so homeless kids still get a chance to be kids despite the difficult circumstances they and their families are facing.”

Community Service and Theater Highlights for this Weekend

Community Service and Theater Highlights: April 28th & 29th, 2012

Help to tidy the East Branch Trail at the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield! Trails always need a little care after the winter, even a winter as mild as this year’s. Donate some time to the preservation of an amazing community resource! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Participate in community service this weekend with your family, then head out to one of the many theater opportunities!

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Families can spend a day volunteering with Mass Audubon! The organization’s annual Statewide Volunteer Day will take place from 9am-12noon at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary (Easthampton), Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Pittsfield) & Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (Hampden)! Volunteers can help to clean up trails, gardens, and nature centers – there are activities for all ages and abilities, everything from preparing garden beds for planting to restoring trails. Must sign up as volunteer slots are limited.

Other morning opportunities families can participate in include clean ups of our parks and community spaces include a Spring Clean Up Day in Lenox at the library and town train station, sprucing up the outdoor spaces at the Springfield Museum in Springfield, a work bee at the Cushman Library in Bernardson, or tidying up the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield.

In the afternoon, there will be a Sew-In at the Longmeadow Library in  Longmeadow open to sewers from beginner to advanced – if you don’t know how to sew, you can learn!  The bags are simple.  Kids welcome, but use your own discretion – they must be able to independently operate a machine.

Then on Sunday, get moving and help to raise funds for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Hampshire County by participating in the  Daffodil Fun Run in Amherst!

THEATER

While you’re out and about volunteering in your community, end the day with  one of the many theater performances. The Starlight Youth Theater will present Seussical at South Hadley High School, Westfield State University presents Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Westfield, Williston Northampton School presents Fiddler on the Roof in Easthampton, Westfield Theatre Group will perform a musical adaptation of the story Robin Hood at the Westfield Woman’s Club, and families can see the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Engelbert Hunperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel on the big screen at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsAll of this and more can be found on our list of Weekly Suggested Events!

Community Service: Mass Audubon Statewide Volunteer Day

Work for Wildlife
Mass Audubon 6th Annual Statewide Volunteer Day
Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Spending the day helping with spring clean-up efforts is a way for families to contribute to the preservation of community resources, and can help kids learn about environmental stewardship.

Spend a day volunteering with Mass Audubon! The organization’s annual Statewide Volunteer Day will take place on Saturday, April 28th from 9am-12noon in locations across the state.

In Western MA, families can volunteer at one of three sanctuaries: Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield; Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton; or Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden. Volunteers can help to clean up trails, gardens, and nature centers – there are activities for all ages and abilities, everything from preparing garden beds for planting to restoring trails.

In Pittsfield and Easthampton, families with children of all ages can choose to help set up compost sites, expand herb beds, repair scarecrows, or pick up trash from spring floods.  And at all three locations families with teens can choose to help stake gardens, rake pathways, clear and expand turtle nesting sites, remove invasive plant species, loading canoes & row boats, install a new children’s garden area, along with cleaning up winter debris. For more information check their page, Work for Wildlife, or call 781-259-2185.  Each sanctuary has a limited number of volunteer slots, so be sure to sign up soon!

Do you know of a community service opportunity for families in Western MA?  Tell us so we can share with families interested in volunteering with their kids in our community: hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Support New Families! Volunteer with It Takes A Village!

It Takes A Village Volunteer Training in Ashfield

Get involved with It Takes A Village! There will be a volunteer training happening in Ashfield, MA on Sunday, April 22nd from 11am-2pm. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is certainly true, and It Takes a Village, a community volunteer service helping families with new children, helps bring the village straight to families.

The group serves greater Brattleboro and the Hilltowns of Western MA, and volunteers are paired with families who they visit for 2 hours a week for the first three months of  family’s journey with a new child.  Volunteers can help cook meals, take care of household chores, spend time with older children, among other ways of participating.

There will be a volunteer training for Hilltowns volunteers on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012, from 11am-2pm.  Adults can learn about the program, as well as tips and strategies for helping the families they will be paired with.  The training will take place at St. John’s House, located at the corner of Route 116 and Baptist Corner Road in Ashfield.  For more information, contact Anna Westley at 413-634-5431.

Community Service: Volunteering as a Family

Community Service: Volunteering as a Family

Community clean up day at Greenfield Energy Park. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

During the holiday season there was much discussion about community service opportunities families could participate in together. Now that spring has arrived, many parks are getting ready for the season with spring clean ups, an excellent time of the year for families to participate in community service together, while enjoying the outdoors.

This past Saturday, April 7th, 2012 Greenfield Energy Park had their spring clean up, and several families stopped by to volunteer their time and energy cleaning up the park. Coordinator, Nancy Hazard, invites families to join her during the summer on Thursday evenings during the Coop Concerts (6-8pm) to quietly help with weeding.  And in the fall there will be another big community clean up.  We’ll announce when here on Hilltown Families, along with other opportunities we learn about for families over the seasons.

Today Saturday, April 14th, 2012 there are several more opportunities for families to participate in community service by volunteering their time to local clean up efforts.

Look Park in Florence is opening for the season, but the grounds need some attention! Bring your family and come to the park ready to work (BYO rake and gloves).

Families can participate together in community service at one of the many spring clean ups happening in the region. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

And just down the road, also in Florence, there will be a community work morning and tour of the new Beaver Brook/Fitzgerald Lake Greenway with the Broad Brook Coalition.  Bring your family (and gloves!) and help clean up debris, fallen branches and tree limbs.  There will also be a brief tour of the farm and artifacts that once occupied this area.

In Ashfield, families can join the Trustees of Reservation for a morning of trail maintenance at Chapel Brook. The Appalachian Mountain Club will be offering beginner climbing lessons too!

And in West Springfield, families can help clean up at Regan Park in the afternoon by raking grass, picking up trash, and removing debris left over from winter.

Do you know of a community service opportunity for families in Western MA?  Tell us so we can share with families interested in volunteering with their kids in our community: hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Recommend a Charity. Volunteer Your Time Wisely.

Charities and Volunteering for the Holidays

Recommend a Charity

The holiday season is approaching and many families are looking to volunteer time with their kids or charities to donate to. We’ll be adding links to recommended charities to the side bar of HilltownFamilies.org. If you would like to recommend a charity, please post the name of the organization and their web address in our comment box. We’ll add it to the list.

Volunteer Tips

Network for Good shares tips on how to volunteer your time wisely 10 Tips on Volunteering Wisely. Their first tip is to research the causes or issues important to you. They explain, “Look for a group that works with issues about which you feel strongly. You might already be giving money to one of these organizations, and that might be a good place to begin your volunteer experience. If you can’t find such an organization, here’s a challenging and intriguing thought: why not start one yourself? You can rally your neighbors to clean up that vacant lot on the corner, patrol the neighborhood, paint an elderly neighbor’s house, take turns keeping an eye on the ailing person down the street, or form a group to advocate for a remedy to that dangerous intersection in your neighborhood. There is no end to the creative avenues for volunteering, just as there is no end to the need for volunteers.”

To read their other nine tips go to networkforgood.org.

Have a recommended place for families to volunteer this holiday season, or would like to organize a volunteer effort in our community? Share in our comment box!

What will you do on January 19th?

Brandon Deroche of Causecast writes:

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration of President Elect Obama, Causecast has produced a video to push and inspire people to get involved and serve in their community on January 19th. Service is so important to our communities and our country, both locally and nationally, and we want to help make the connection between King’s dream in ’63 and our yearning for change. Its getting major pull but we need your help!

We have highlighted over 15 service organizations and websites that provide all the necessary information on volunteering for anyone, anywhere – to increase volunteerism on the 19th and beyond. Service is incredibly important and people need to understand that everyone has the power to make a difference. Just a few hours can have a significant impact.

In producing the video and after speaking with USASERVICE.ORG and the Obama transition team, we wanted to be sure to connect with your website on this effort. It will take all groups, organizations, efforts, websites and causes to truly make this MLK Day Dream a Reality. We recognize that you are doing incredible work and help people stay connected,

Lets make January 19th 2009 a day on, not a day off. Together we will answer Obama’s call to service and volunteer on Martin Luther King Day. On behalf of all of the service partners involved – thank you for doing your part.

Thank you for your help!  Click here to take action.

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