Community Spotlight: Hilltown Food Pantry

I have worked as the Director of the Hilltown Food Pantry in Goshen for 25 years. When asked why I do this work, one thing that comes to mind is the good, old bumper sticker that reads, “think globally, act locally.” We all hear of the horrible hunger, even starvation for some, all over the world. But we also know that food insecurity and hunger exist right here in Hampshire County. In fact, today, Hampshire County is home to over 30,000 food insecure individuals.

Three decades ago the term “food insecurity” was not familiar to most of us. But some folks in the hilltowns were becoming aware of its reality. They thought that there needed to be a community response, a concerted effort to help our fellow neighbors who were facing a serious need. Hampshire Community Action Corporation (HCAC) responded to help the towns set up two pantries; one to serve the southern hilltowns and one to be located in the northern hilltowns. In 2005 when HCAC was in its final days, David Keilson of Chesterfield stepped forward to find a new parent agency for the Hilltown Pantry. His advocacy worked and the pantry was adopted by Northampton Survival Center.

The Hilltown Pantry had several different locations over the years before moving into the Goshen Town Office Building in the early 2000’s. The Town of Goshen has been a very welcoming and supportive host ever since. This is a regional program serving about 280 individuals from ten communities in Western Hampshire County: Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Haydenville, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg, and Worthington. Clients drive sometimes thirty minutes or more to access the pantry at its Rte. 9 location.

The clientele we serve is diverse, including the homeless; folks who are unemployed and waiting for food stamp assistance, or whose benefits have run out; families in crisis after the death or disability of a primary wage-earner; those struggling to reintegrate after serving in the military; and others for whom unexpected life events left them hungry and without a safety net. The children we help feed are growing up not just hungry, but in families that may be isolated, maybe with a parent fleeing abuse, or new to this country. 27% of clients are children under the age of 18, and 18% are seniors. We see about 30 new clients each year. 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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Just like the non-profit organizations Hilltown Families supports during our Family Community Service Events, Hilltown Families is a non-profit organization too… and we need your help so we can continue to support education through community engagement, including service-based learning experiences. Donate to Hilltown Families and double the impact of your giving dollars!

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 »

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.

Food for Fines

Lisa Downing of the Forbes Library (Northampton, MA) writes:

Forbes Library will be holding a “Food for Fines” program from Monday, January 5th through Saturday, January 17th, 2009.

Support your local community, clear your library account and return our books to circulate to others!

During this time, patrons may pay any overdue fines on their account with a donation of canned goods (please check your expiration dates) or healthy non-perishable food items. This applies to late fines only and not to lost or damaged fees. All food collected will be given to the Northampton Survival Center for distribution to those in need in Hampshire County [including Northampton and many Hilltowns].

High demand food items are non-dairy milk, cereal, crackers, canned fruit, peanut butter, tuna fish, hearty winter canned soup, macaroni and cheese, pasta and sauce, beans, and rice.

Suggested donation is one item for each $1 waived in fines.

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