2019 Thanksgiving Meals & Volunteer Opportunities in Western MA

Thanksgiving Holiday Offers Opportunity of Meaningful Community Service in Western MA

As Thanksgiving approaches, families can integrate food-related community service into their schedules 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.

To learn more about how to offer community service or to find a community meal to attend, check out some of these community events on Thanksgiving Day: Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Learning To Be Thankful

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Learning To Be Thankful

Being thankful is hard for any child, especially a toddler. Reminding them to say “thank you” is often my least favorite part of any interaction. “What do you say?” I ask, “It’s good,” my daughter says. “What else do you say?” I remind her using the sign for thank you “Use a napkin.”  She giggles and devours the apple the kind man at the orchard gave her. “Thank you. We appreciate it,” I say as we walk out.

Though it’s frustrating that my daughter may come across as rude and inconsiderate, I have to remind myself that she’s three. A three year old is thankful; they just don’t realize how wonderful it is to show it. This month we have been working on giving and sharing, and mostly learning about being thankful. We’re focusing on what it is to feel good when others do nice things for you. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we came up with a few fall themed art projects that can be used as a “thank you” for all the wonderful things the people in our lives do for us! Read the rest of this entry »

Literature Guide for Leo Lionni’s “Tillie and the Wall”

Literature Guide for Leo Lionni’s Tillie and the Wall

One of beloved author and illustrator Leo Lionni’s lesser-known works, Tillie and the Wall tells a fantastically symbolic tale of a young mouse and the power of curiosity. Told through somewhat simple text, the story is accessible to young readers yet includes deep symbolism that older readers can engage with.

Lionni’s classic style of illustration (a mixture of cut paper, collage, and traditional hand-drawn images) echoes both the story’s simplicity and below-the-surface complexity, and the book’s images add additional layers to the embedded symbolism. Read the rest of this entry »

4 Books that Explore the History of Thanksgiving

Oprn Drdsmr: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

A Slice of History
Four Non-fiction Titles for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving ties us to those colonists who nearly four hundred years ago celebrated their first harvest in a small coastal community now known as Plymouth. The holiday also ties us to the Wampanoag Indians who were vital in helping the Pilgrims survive their new world.

Every year Americans prepare their feasts of thanksgiving, each celebration an echo of that very first feast in 1621. Here are four non-fiction books that give interesting perspectives about our national holiday, dispelling some of the more romantic myths and introducing some fascinating facts. This year along with your harvest feast, go ahead and have a slice of history too.

1621: A New Look At Thanksgiving written by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac, with photographs by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. In this photo essay, the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving feast is re-enacted at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, MA.  Recorded by National Geographic photographers over three days, the book dispels the more romantic myths of pilgrims dressed in buckles and hats, and Indians wrapped in blankets. And instead gives “a new look,” a fresh perspective, to the beginning of our national holiday. Historically accurate, with full-color photos, the book brings this important piece of history to life, and in particular, gives voice to the Wampanoag Indians’ role in helping the pilgrims to survive. (Published by National Geographic Children’s Books, Washington, D.C., 2001. ISBN: 0-79-22702-74. 48 pages.)

Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners (The pilgrims thought about food all the time. They had to!) written by Lucille Recht Penner with illustrations selected by author. This book explores the customs, manners, and eating habits of the Pilgrims, from their first years surviving in the wilderness to their later years as successful farmers and hunters. Filled with details about the Pilgrims’ struggle for survival and how smelly, messy, and perilous it was, the book portrays their daily life, while specifically focusing on food. The book also highlights how Pilgrim survival depended on the help of native peoples. Line drawings and photographs accent the information, and with chapter titles like “Bugs for Dinner” and “We All Scream for Pudding,” readers’ curiosities will be piqued.  Pilgrim menus and recipes included. (Published by Perfection Learning, Iowa 1997. ISBN: 0-75-69410-91. 117 pages.)

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message adapted by Chief Jake Swamp and illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr. In this children’s version of the Iroquois Thanksgiving Address, readers can hear a message of gratitude that originated with the native peoples of New York and Canada. Traditionally spoken at the beginning of each day and at special ceremonies, the Thanksgiving Address expresses a reverence for nature and recognizes the unity among all living creatures. The message stretches the idea that there isn’t just one day of the year for giving thanks, but sees every day as an opportunity for thanksgiving. The message is also written out in the Mohawk language. Bold, color-block paintings provide a vibrant landscape for reading. (Published by Lee & Low Books, New York, 1995. ISBN: 1-88-00001-56. 24 pages.)

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving, written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Matt Faulkner, is told in an easy conversational style and illustrated with lush drawings full of detail and historic relevance.  The book introduces a little known heroine, Sarah Hale, (who is also responsible for penning “Mary Had A Little Lamb”), and her crusade to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Noticing how Thanksgiving was losing its importance in American traditions, Hale spent 38 years writing magazine articles and petitioning four different presidents until her perseverance and pen power finally won out. President Lincoln was persuaded by her argument that a national holiday would re-unite the union, and in 1863 he made it official. ”A Feast of Facts” outlines more information about Thanksgiving, Sarah Hale, and 1863 in history. (Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2002. ISBN: 0-68-98478-74. 40 pages.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.

HFVS Thanksgiving Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

 

Thanksgiving Episode
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

Listen to Podcast:

This special Thanksgiving episode from Charity and the JAMband explores, through music and story, some of the many, many things we have to be grateful for in our lives — like the sun, rain, friends and family – – culminating in a vision for world peace where everyone finally has enough food, shelter, community and love. Incorporating songs by Snatam Kaur, Los Lobos, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, and Nat King Cole, among others, the music and commentary weave a gentle yet thought-provoking meditation on gratitude, generosity, love and compassion to inspire folks of all ages this holiday season.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 19th & 20th, 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Charity has a great song, “Loving Kindness.” She writes, “Love shouldn’t cost anything. This song emanated from the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness (also called Metta), whereby you send wishes of health, happiness, safety and peace of mind to yourself and others.”  In this video she shows you the movements to the song so you can show your preK kids how to dance along! – www.jamjamjam.com


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [Let It Bleed]
  • Beatles “Dear Prudence” [White Album]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Grateful” [Family Values]
  • Snatam Kaur – “Long Time Sun” [Sacred Chants for Healing]
  • Gene Kelley – “Singing in the Rain” [Best of Gene Kelley]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Green Beans Everywhere” [Family Values]
  • Nat King Cole – “Frim Fram Sauce” [The King Cole Trio]
  • William Steig – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble [Read by Charity Kahn]
  • Moody Blues – “Lovely To See You” [On the Threshold of a Dream]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Love Is Herel” [Family Values]
  • Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now” [single]
  • Los Lobos – “Peace” [Kiko]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “We Are the Ones” [Family Values]

Originally aired on November 21 & 22, 2012 on WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio

Living History Museums Bring the Holiday Season Alive!

Living History Museums Bring the Holiday Season Alive!

Step back in time to a simpler day when holiday celebrations involved cooking over an open fire and illuminating homes with candlelight – the holiday season offers opportunities to experience celebrations of the past at three different living history museums! Families can explore, watch demonstrations, and engage in hands-on activities in order to learn about the ways in which the holiday season was honored in early New England.

Modern technology has certainly had an impact on the ways we decorate for and celebrate the winter holidays – early winter in New England now involves strings of lights and blow-up snowmen rather than windows lit by candles and evergreens adorned with cranberry strings.

This holiday season, families can take a step back into the past, to a simpler time when holiday celebrations involved candles and open hearth cooking. By taking advantage of upcoming holiday-themed living history events, families can dive into the history and culture of western Massachusetts’ holidays past while adding a new tradition to their own celebrations! Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving: Through the Lens of Poetry, Art & Literature

Thanksgiving: Through the Lens of Poetry, Art & Literature

As mentioned in the Sept/Oct 2016 edition of Learning Ahead, food connects us. The gathering of community, family, and friends around the table for a shared meal is a meaningful way to spend time together in the spirit of sharing and collaboration through food. The Thanksgiving season is one that inspires us to reflect on the people and places for which we are thankful. It’s an opportunity to express gratitude collectively.

Today, the traditional Thanksgiving meal is a celebration of the harvest season. The dinner table features the autumn bounty produced by local farms. Customary foods often included in Thanksgiving meals include corn, turkey, cranberry sauce, and fall vegetables such as squash and pumpkin pie. In fact, the traditional New England dishes often included at the Thanksgiving table have even inspired poets in their literary musings.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sense of Place: Thanksgiving

Literary Guide for Barbara Cohen’s “Molly’s Pilgrim”

Literary Guide for Barbara Cohen’s “Molly’s Pilgrim”

Download literary guide for Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen.

Set in the early 20th century, Molly’s Pilgrim illuminates the multiple meanings and cultural roots of the word pilgrim. The story features a Jewish family who immigrated to the United States from Russia, likely to flee the pogroms.

Molly, the title character, has just moved with her parents to a small and culturally homogenous community. She doesn’t yet speak English fluently, and her parents are even less fluent than she is. Molly’s biggest challenge is fitting in at school. As the only Jewish student, she is teased and taunted for her difference in appearance, her accent, and her lack of knowledge about American cultural traditions – especially Thanksgiving.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Ahead: Nov & Dec Cultural Itinerary for Western MA

Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for
Western Massachusetts
Seasons: November & December

Who am I? Where am I? These are the fundamental questions proposed by the humanities. Inquiries related to local history, literature, and education, inspire us to think deeply about the places where we live and how our identity fits into the context of our community and the seasons.

Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

With these downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history, strengthening sense of place.

Looking through a seasonal lens, our Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for November and December includes:

  • Learn about FOOD preservation: Harvest, Butchers & Museums
  • Veterans Day as a CATALYST for learning: Literature, History & Music
  • Looking through the LENS of Thanksgiving: Poetry & Painting
  • VALUE based engagement: Handmade &  Non-Commercial
  • Local HABITAT connects us to myth & nature: Christmas Trees
  • PLACEMAKING with annual events: Holiday Strolls & Caroling
  • Experience other CULTURES through the holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa & Three Kings Day
  • Mark the SEASON by sharing & connecting: Winter Solstice & Storytelling
  • Engage in New England TRADITIONS: First Night & First Hikes

Click here to download PDF (38 pages).


Mass Humanities This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Special thank you to sponsors of this issue, including: ♦ Montague BookmillNew England Air MuseumDowntown Northampton AssociationSpringfield Museums.

Let’s Play: Simple Play at the Table

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Where did all the play go? Am I the only parent that is mourning its loss?

The new math makes sense to me. I read Old Dogs, New Math: Homework Help for Puzzled Parents last winter after a friend with middle school aged children mentioned the math concepts coming my way. I like to be prepared. Current reading readiness makes sense. At first I was a bit surprised by the way letter formation and penmanship is introduced in kindergarten—broken down into simple strokes and marks—no letters. I came from the generation of blue, lined practice paper with dashes mid way to mark the height of lower care letters and teachers that loved red marks. I decided to watch and wait. It worked. So far I am on board and enjoying the elementary school experience with my daughter.  Read the rest of this entry »

Open Sesame: 8 Picture Books Celebrate Canny Turkeys

Talkin’ Turkey: Eight Picture Books That Keep Their Tail Feathers

Turkeys are part of our living landscape. We see them almost everyday throughout the year. In spring, we admire the big toms displaying their feathers in full regalia, and in summer, we delight in the fuzzy babies wobbling after their mothers. We watch big flocks pecking in stubbled cornfields during fall, and in winter, we follow their claw marks in the snow, hoping to find one of their long, magical feathers. We can’t help but mimic their gobble gobble, and are always surprised to see their plump bodies fly up into the trees to roost. A symbol of the Give-Away, the turkey carries historical and cultural significance, and for many, is the epicenter of the Thanksgiving feast. But in these picture books, there are no roasted turkeys. These birds aren’t dressed with stuffing and chestnut glaze, but instead wear ridiculous costumes and hatch crazy ideas to escape human plates. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will appreciate the comedic feast and avian affection found in these eight picture books, where talkin’ turkey means keeping your tail feathers.  Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities in Western MA

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for November 24th-30th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

The holiday season is upon us! We asked our readers for recommendations on where to get a locally grown Christmas Tree. Check out these recommendations on fun places to go with the family to choose/cut your own, and add to the list.

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

WEEKEND BEST BETS

Saturday, Nov. 24th from 1-4pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURE/COMICS: The Norman Rockwell Museum is hosting an afternoon full of superhero-themed fun, to accompany an exhibit of comic book art. Kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superhero (from a comic book or their imagination!), and can explore the museum, do art activities, listen to storytellers, and more. 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE with museum admission)

Saturday, Nov. 24th at 2pm and 3pm – FAMILY THEATER: Picture Book Theater presents Eric Carle’s The Very Quiet Cricket and The Very Lonely Firefly – puppet style! – at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. See these classic children’s stories come alive with all of the beauty of Carle’s signature collaged illustrations. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Sunday, Nov. 25th at 11am – COMMUNITY WALK: The annual Gorge Apres Gorge, a sweet post-Thanksgiving community tradition in the heart of the Hilltowns, takes place on Sunday at the Chesterfield Gorge. Bring your family and friends and stroll along the Westfield River in a post-Thanksgiving community walk (you can run too). A 5K run happens earlier at 9am to benefit the Trustees of Reservations ($). BYO potluck items to share with other participants after the walk. Chesterfield Gorge. Ireland Street. West Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

HILLTOWN FAMILIES EVENTS

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night: 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. Volunteering as a family helps children learn values like kindness, respect and friendliness, and on this evening you can volunteer with five different local non-profits in a single evening! Space is limited so reserve a spot for your family today!

Call for Youth Photographers: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House, originally schedule for this fall, now scheduled for the month of January 2013. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry has been extended to Dec 1st, 2012. An application and entry rules can be downloaded here: Places We Live, Play & Learn Application Form (pdf).

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 1st from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games, puzzles & card games you would like to swap with other families. New this year, incomplete games are welcomed and will be donated to the Northampton Creative ReUse Committee. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD


Dec. 1st

On Sat. Dec. 1st, Greenfield Center School will again host a Crafty Rumpus Open House. This is a creative, free holiday gift making event for children ages 3-12. New this year they will have a Middle School Melee—a party celebrating 5th-8th graders with an indoor bounce house, dance party, henna tattoos and even a chocolate fountain. In addition: savory and sweet foods available for purchase, free pony rides, and admissions information available. Come, meet the teachers and families of the Center School. Enjoy a day of fun and creativity. All are welcome! For directions: www.centerschool.net and check out the Rumpus website: www.craftyrumpus.com. Crafty Rumpus and Middle School Melee. Sat. Dec. 1st, 10am-2pm. Greenfield, MA.

Dec. 7th-9th

Pioneer Valley Ballet is proud to present its 34th annual production of the Nutcracker, an enchanting, classic ballet production at the landmark Academy of Music Theatre: Fri, Dec. 7 at 4pm & 7:30pm, and Sat, Dec. 8 & Sun, Dec. 9. at 1pm & 4:30pm. All tickets are reserved seating and available online and in person at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Senior discounts available in person only. To purchase tickets, call the Pioneer Valley Ballet at 413-527-6363, or the Academy of Music box at 413-584-9032 x105, or visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com. All shows have discounted high school & college student RUSH seats available 1/2 hour prior each performance at box office window. RUSH seats are restricted to upper balcony only.

ADVERTISE YOUR FALL/HOLIDAY EVENT: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

For November we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Jake Shimabukuro at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, De. 1st, 2012. Deadline to enter: Tues., 11/27.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
November 24th-30th 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for November 17th-23rd, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Next Thursday, Nov. 22nd is Thanksgiving and there are several opportunities to stock up on local ingredients for your family Thanksgiving Dinner, including in Easthampton on Friday, Nov. 16th, Great Barrington and Amherst on Saturday, Nov. 17th, and Shelburne on Sunday, Nov. 18th.  (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Saturday, November 17th from 10am-3pm – HOLIDAY FAIR/CRAFT MAKING: Go on a hayride, dip candles, make your own holiday gifts, see a marionette show, enjoy homemade food, and more at the Hartsbrook School’s Holiday Fair!  The Pocket Lady and King Winter might even pay a visit!  413-586-1908.  193 Bay Road.  Hadley, MA.  (FREE ENTRANCE, >$)

Saturday, November 17th from 10am-3pm – MYO HOLIDAY GIFTS: Four Rivers Charter School is hosting a homemade holiday craft event, where families can create their own unique and handmade gifts!  Bring your gift list, and your creativity.  413-775-4577.  248 Colrain Road.  Greenfield, MA.

Sunday, November 18th at 5pm – CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING: The holidays have begun – and the tree at Yankee Candle will be lit tonight!  Visit the company’s flagship store for the tree lighting, which will feature a visit from Santa himself, as well as carolers, hot chocolate, and cookies.  877-636-7707.  25 Greenfield Road.  Deerfield, MA.  (FREE)

HILLTOWN FAMILIES EVENTS

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night: 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. Volunteering as a family helps children learn values like kindness, respect and friendliness, and on this evening you can volunteer with five different local non-profits in a single evening! Space is limited so reserve a spot for your family today!

Call for Youth Photographers: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House, originally schedule for this fall, now scheduled for the month of January 2013. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry has been extended to Dec 1st, 2012. An application and entry rules can be downloaded here: Places We Live, Play & Learn Application Form (pdf).

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 1st from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games, puzzles & card games you would like to swap with other families. New this year, incomplete games are welcomed and will be donated to the Northampton Creative ReUse Committee. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Beginning Nov 17

The ClarkLions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!, on view beginning November 17 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Stone Hill Center in Williamstown, utilizes video, hands-on activities, taxidermy, and innovative displays to create an exciting learning environment for all ages. The exhibition includes a magnificent specimen of an adult African lion as well as a lioness’s pelt, claws, and a skull that will be available to encourage hands-on exploration. Visitors try on a gauntlet as they try to balance a wooden block that approximates the size and weight of a falcon for a first-hand experience of the difficulty and delicate balance needed in falconry. Visit clarkart.edu to learn about the exhibition and other family events and programs.

Nov 18

On Sunday November 18th at 3pm, Jane Yolen, “The Hans Christian Andersen of America,” joins folksinger-songwriter Lui Collins in An Afternoon of Poetry and Song for all ages at the Ashfield Community Hall. This family-friendly concert features Jane’s poems interspersed with Lui’s songs, including several of Jane’s poems she has set to music. All proceeds benefit Upside-Up Music’s Scholarship Fund, making family music classes accessible in the Hilltowns. Refreshments, books and CDs available for sale and autographing at intermission. Suggested donation $12; students, seniors, low income $10; <12 $5; <2 free. Family maximum $29. Reservations requested: lui@luicollins.com.

ADVERTISE YOUR FALL/HOLIDAY EVENT: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
November 17th-23rd, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Ways Families Can Be Engaged in Their Community Post-Election in Western MA

Status Updates: Community Service Connections

For more community service connections, “Like” the Hilltown Families Facebook page for status updates!

Here are 10 ways families and teens can support their community and others post Hurricane Sandy and leading up to the holidays.  All of these suggestions were posted to the Hilltown Families Facebook page over the past week.  We offer daily updates and announcements on our Facebook page for families living throughout Western MA! If you haven’t already, be sure you not only “Like” our page, but that you add us to your Facebook News Feed and Interest Lists!

HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF EFFORTS

Is your family looking to volunteer in the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts? There is a Staten Island Relief project happening all week in the Pioneer Valley. A tractor trail is being filled with donated relief items and both donations and volunteers to load are needed. Locations include: Technique Studio of Dance (470 Newton St.) in South Hadley on Tues. (11/6) and Wed. (11/7) from 4:30-7:30pm; Nuvo Bank in Springfield (1500 Main St.) during regular business hours from 8am-5pm; and Hukelau Restaurant parking log (705 Memorial Dr.) in Chicopee on Fri. (11/9) from 9am-7pm. Suggested donation items include: water, blankets, contractor bags, clothing, shoes, boots, flashlights, batteries, cleaning supplies, baby needs (clothing, diapers), children’s toys and ready to eat food (pretzels, chips, cookies, etc.). Anything and everything is needed! – Email Darlene Sattler at TSD1997@aol.com to volunteer or to donate.

The Minerva Tag Sale Center in north Berkshire County is currently accepting donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Minerva Arts Center writes, “We have sent a delivery of donations down today and are planning another in 10 days. Donations are accepted everyday.”

PARK CLEAN UP

On Saturday (11/10), bring the family and head to Springside Park, Pittsfield’s largest public park, and volunteer together with your community to clean up the park before the snow falls. Bring gloves and park at the upper playground (near the old zoo). Rain date: 11/11.

COMMUNITY DINNER

Saturday night (11/10) join the families from the Berkshire Trail Elementary School in Cummington for a community pasta supper with locally made sauce from Ooma Tesoro & bread from Bread Euphoria Bakery & Cafe. There will even be gluten free pasta for those who can’t have wheat. Two seatings. Follow the link for details:

DONATING USED TOYS

Looking for a place to donate your child(ren)’s used toys? Alison Webster asks, “Does anyone know where I could donate used, very good condition toys and they would go directly to kids/families?” Check out what our readers recommended and share your own ideas:

THANKSGIVING DONATIONS & VOLUNTEERS

The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield is now accepting turkey donations for their 21st Annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov 15th at the Club for youth members and their families, free of charge! With over 200 people expected, volunteers are needed too to help serve and clean If your family is interested in volunteering please contact Kellie or at 413-562-2301 or lerryn@comcast.net.

YOUTH INTERNSHIPS

Internships Needed for Local Youths! The North Quabbin Community Coalitionis looking to fill paid and unpaid internship positions for local youth from both Athol High School and Ralph C. Mahar Regional Schools. These positions would offer the youth an opportunity to explore possible career opportunities and exploration, give them experience in a certain field and offer them the opportunity to learn. Some benefits to local businesses who are willing to hire youth can range from enthusiasm, eagerness to learn, creativity and adaptability. Youth thrive with change and are open to it, and most importantly they are consumers. If you are interested in hosting a youth internship, please contact Jennifer Desjardins at the North Quabbin Community Coalition at 978-249-3703 or Jennifer@nqcc.org.

FOOD DRIVE

The Emily Williston Library will offer its popular “Food for Fines” program the first three weeks of November to benefit the Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry. Patrons with outstanding fines for overdue materials may have their fines erased by donating canned food items, diapers, and toiletries. Follow the link to find out more:

WINTER COATS

Child Care of the Berkshires, Inc.‘s Family Resource Center in North Adams is in need of donations of children’s winter coats for their clothing exchange. Sizes ranging from infant through size 10 are needed. FRC will have donation boxes at their Play and Learn Groups and inside the door at Haskins Center in North Adams. Questions? Give them a call at 413-664-4821.

TEEN VOLUNTEERS

Moments House is looking for teens interested in being on their Jr. Board of Directors. If you know a teen who would be interested in becoming involved in any way with their mission to ensure no one faces a cancer diagnosis alone, call 413-443-6800. Moments House is a non-profit organization based out of South Lee, working to open a homelike gathering place where all Berkshire County families impacted by a cancer diagnosis can come together to gather information, and comfort and support one another. www.momentshouse.org

Thanksgiving Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

Thanksgiving Show

♬ Listen Now ♬

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 26th & 27th 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Part of Seattle’s Kindiependent Collective, Johnny Bregar, The Harmonica Pocket and Recess Monkey get together for a rocking musical rendition of everyone’s favorite holiday tradition, sitting at the Kids’ Table, written, rehearsed and recorded one Sunday afternoon last year. www.kindiependent.com


PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Facebook Twitter

Thanksgiving Day Playlist

Suggested Events for Nov 26th-Dec 2nd, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Happy Thanksgiving Day! (Heritage breed turkeys at Earthfire Farm in Buckland, MA. Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Friday, November 25th: BLACK FRIDAY – The day after Thanksgiving is filled with family friendly activities. Families can discover the roots of Thanksgiving in Sturbridge, check out Springfield’s Big Balloon Parade; enjoy merry-go-round rides in Holyoke; track animals in Conway; watch a puppet show in Amherst; be dazzled by holiday light display in Florence & Springfield; shop local at Moonlight Magic in Shelburne Falls; and much more!

On Saturday, November 26th at 11am – FAMILY MUSIC: The Nields, a local sister songwriter duo, will be at Odyssey Bookshop on Saturday morning to teach families about the importance of music, especially creating music together! Their book, All Together Singing in the Kitchen  is about family music making and includes tools for getting started. 413-534-7307. 9 College Street. South Hadley, MA. (<$)

On Sunday, November 27th 9am and 11am – FAMILY FUN RUN: Get outside post Thanksgiving for some fresh air, exercise and delicious food (and delicious landscape) with your community! The annual Gorge apres Gorge takes place today at the Chesterfield Gorge. The event begins with a 5k race on the Westfield River at 9am, followed by a free family fun walk at 11am. Following the event will be free tea, cocoa, and coffee from Bread Euphoria, as well as delicious potluck food (bring something to share!). Make the most of the last of the fall weather and foliage. 413-296-4793. Chesterfield, MA. ($)

Scroll down to see our complete list of Weekly Suggested Events for the entire week!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 3rd from 9:30-10:30am: BOARD GAME SWAP: Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games you would like to swap with other families. Kindly make sure the games have all their pieces before bringing in. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. RSVP here, or just drop in. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

On Saturday, December 3rd at 5:30pm – CAROLING: Enjoy caroling and sleigh rides in the center of Williamsburg! There will also be crafts, cider and cocoa, and treats. Takes place on the Grange Hall Lawn. Main Street. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

On Sunday, December 4th from 11am-4pm – YULETIDE: Storrowton Village is dressed to the nines this holiday season! Wreaths, garlands, and more donated by local businesses adorn every nook and cranny. This weekend, you can visit the beautiful village and enjoy special holiday events. There will be live music, caroling, a visit from Santa, ice carving, blacksmithing, open hearth cooking, a petting zoo filled with farm animals, and more! Celebrate the holidays and learn some history, too! 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (<$)

BULLETIN BOARD

Enter to win eco-friendly, locally-made, free-play toys & music from Easy Keepers. Deadline to enter to win: 12/5/11

OPEN HOUSE/CRAFTS: On Sat. Dec. 3rd, Greenfield Center School will again host a Crafty Rumpus Open House. This is a colossal arts, crafts and music event for all ages with free art activities for children 3-12 years. Also musician Jay Mankita, who, according to Pete Seeger, is “one of the half dozen best songwriters today” will perform children’s music, as will Carrie Ferguson. In addition, Crafty Rumpus hosts a 25+ booth craft fair featuring juried artisans from across the region offering lovely wares, and will be serving up savory and sweet foods. All events free and all are welcome! Admissions information will also be available. For directions: www.centerschool.net and check out the Rumpus website: craftyrumpus.com Crafty Rumpus 2011 Sat. Dec 3rd, 10-4

Win tix for a parents' night out in Northampton, MA. Deadline to enter to win: 12/1/11

HANDMADE HOLIDAY FAIR: Start your holiday shopping at Alchemy Initiative’s Handmade Holiday Festival– a juried exhibit of 40 artisans. From pottery and jewelry to chocolates and quilts- this is your one-stop spot to check everyone off your holiday list! Preview Party: Fri., Dec. 2nd, 4-7pm, $20. Gen admission: Fri., 7-9pm and Sat., Dec. 3rd 10-6pm, $4 adults/kids under 5 free. Drop and Shop: Parents, drop your child off at Bisque, Beads, & Beyond for a two-hour art project while you shop. Hands-on for your child, hands-free for you! Special hours on Saturday only. Call BBB to reserve your child’s spot: 413-442-9033. For more info, visit www.AlchemyInitiative.org or call 413-236-9600. 40 Melville St., Pittsfield, MA (next to the CYC and Boys and Girls Club).

Lego KidsFest

Legos are great for creative free play! Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page to find out how you can win tixs to KidsFest!

LEGO MANIA: The LEGO KidsFest is a giant traveling LEGO expo coming to Hartford’s Connecticut Convention Center December 2nd-4th. This hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza features millions of LEGO bricks not to mention lots of construction zones, dozens of life-sized LEGO models and displays, LEGO Universe and LEGO Games, group builds such as Creation Nation and the Mystery Mural, live LEGO Master Builders, and so much more covering three acres of space. Five identical 4.5 hours sessions are available. Tickets are $18 for kids and $20 for adults. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.LEGOKidsFest.com

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Volunteer opportunity in Northampton. The Manna Meal Program serves three meals each week to Northampton residents out of two local churches. Volunteers are needed to help set up for the meals, serve food, and clean up afterwards. Mondays and Saturdays at lunchtime, and Wednesdays at dinnertime. To sign up, contact Robert Saalfrank at 413-587-2674.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Nov 26th-Dec 2nd, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Read the rest of this entry »

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

Oprn Drdsmr: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

Open Sesame

The debut of Hilltown Families newest column, "Open Sesame" by Cheli Mennella, reviews "Balloons Over Broadway," a children's picture book that takes a look at the history behind the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Open Sesame’s debut review is a hot-off-the-presses picture book about an extraordinary artist and a Thanksgiving Day parade. Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, tells the story of Tony Sarg, the genius behind the upside down puppets of Macy’s annual parade.

Sarg, a self-taught puppeteer, artist, and inventor, was fascinated by movement from the time he was a boy. Indeed the story opens with Sarg’s own words: “Every little movement has a meaning of its own.” Beneath his hand, marionettes would come to life, moving like real people and animals. Sarg brought his marionettes to New York City, where it didn’t take long for people to notice his special gift, including R.H. Macy’s department store. In 1923, Macy’s asked Sarg to create their holiday window display. He invented  mechanical puppets that paraded all day, enchanting passerby.

Then, in 1924, Macy’s hired Sarg to help with their very first Thanksgiving Day parade.  The parade was a huge success, and Macy’s decided to have one every year. They asked Sarg to think of something extraordinary for the parade. Sarg rose to the occasion, designing large rubber puppets filled with air and mounted on sticks.

But Sarg realized his puppets were hard to see from the ground, where crowds swelled along the sidewalks. In a brilliant stroke of creative genius, Sarg decided to make upside down marionettes, which would float above the crowd and be worked by puppeteers on the ground. And on Thanksgiving Day, 1928, his helium-filled balloon puppets rose into the air, high above the crowds, and paraded down the streets of New York City, where Sarg-inspired balloons still rise every year.

Caldecott Honor winning illustrator, Melissa Sweet captures Sarg’s playful spirit in her mix of watercolor illustrations and mixed media collages. The pictures provide a visual feast, full of wonderful details for children to savor and discover. Even the end papers are something to pour over. Sweet uses simple language to interweave story and pictures, with words sometimes leaping in and becoming part of the illustration itself. This makes for a story full of whimsy that will appeal to even the youngest reader. Children will connect right away with Tony, and delight in his ingenuous way of getting out of chores when he was a boy. Adults will find interest in this slice of history and enjoy the way Melissa Sweet tells it. A detailed author’s note and bibliography at the end adds to the experience.

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet. Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011. – ISBN 978-0-547-19945-0


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.

Suggested Events for Nov 19th-25th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Many of the holiday fairs that happen over the holiday season host craft making for families too! Great opportunity to make your own holiday gifts while getting out into the community and being creative with your kids! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, Nov. 19th from 10am-3pm – HOLIDAY FAIR/CRAFT MAKING: Ride a pony, dip candles, see a marionette show, enjoy delicious food, and more at the Hartsbrook School’s Holiday Fair!  The Pocket Lady and King Winter might even pay a visit.  413-586-1908.  193 Bay Road.  Hadley, MA.  (FREE ENTRANCE, >$)

On Sunday, Nov. 20th at 2pm – FAMILY THEATER: Nutshell Playhouse performs their swashbuckling adventure, “Pirates!” this afternoon at the New State Performing Arts Center!  The show is a fun adventure involving ships, eye patches, and a magical journey to the bottom of the sea!  413-212-1416.  55 North Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  (DONATION)

Scroll down to see our complete list of Weekly Suggested Events for the entire week!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 3rd from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games you would like to swap with other families. Kindly make sure the games have all their pieces before bringing in. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. RSVP here, or just drop in. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Kurt Heidinger of Biocitizen writes, “Biocitizen is offering a course that reveals how the natural philosophy of Transcendentalism got its start here in the Northampton area. Participants in this class (limit of 6, w/4 seats still open) read key works of local Transcendentalists; keep a journal; & practice environmental philosophy at places that inspired them: in our area, Walden Pond, & NYC’s Central Park & the Met. Our goal is this: we need to change our way of life if we’re to live in harmony with the designs of nature, but this change will not be brought to us by the government or corps—it happens 1st on the personal level. To fuel & encourage this transformation, our course empowers you with a deep historical and ecological understanding of our “native” natural philosophy.”  www.biocitizen.org

Win tix for a parents' night out in Northampton, MA. Deadline to enter to win: 12/1/11

 CRAFT FAIR: The Little Drummer Craft Fair will be held on Saturday, Nov 19th, 9am-4pm, at Franklin County Technical School, 82 Industrial Blvd, Turners Falls. Proceeds from the show benefit the Franklin County Technical School music department and award winning drumline! This juried craft fair features craftspeople from throughout the Pioneer Valley selling unique handcrafted products, including knits, woodworking, pioneer chairs, oil paintings, hook rugs, lotions, salves & lavender, soaps, candles, dried floral, fudge, jams & condiments, handbags, jewelry, cards, soft toys, and quilts!  Fair held indoors, plenty of free parking. Free admission. Raffles, refreshments and bake sale items! Find them on Facebook!

 OPEN HOUSE: Amherst Montessori School will hold an Admissions Open House for Parents, Saturday, November 19, 10 AM-noon. Learn what a Montessori education is all about, and if it is the right choice for your child.  By following true Montessori principles, Amherst Montessori School nurtures each child’s spirit by demonstrating respect for others and a celebration of diversity, while offering a competitive academic curriculum. Children become self-confident, socially responsible leaders who think outside the box. To register for the Open House, please call 413-253-3101. Amherst Montessori School, 27 Pomeroy Lane, Amherst. www.amherstmontessori.org.

Enter to win eco-friendly, locally-made, free-play toys & music from Easy Keepers. Deadline to enter to win: 12/5/11

OPEN HOUSE/CRAFTS: On Sat. Dec. 3rd, Greenfield Center School will again host a Crafty Rumpus Open House. This is a colossal arts, crafts and music event for all ages with free art activities for children 3-12 years. Also musician Jay Mankita, who, according to Pete Seeger, is “one of the half dozen best songwriters today” will perform children’s music, as will Carrie Ferguson. In addition, Crafty Rumpus hosts a 25+ booth craft fair featuring juried artisans from across the region offering lovely wares, and will be serving up savory and sweet foods. All events free and all are welcome! Admissions information will also be available. For directions: www.centerschool.net  and check out the Rumpus website: craftyrumpus.com  Crafty Rumpus 2011 Sat. Dec 3rd, 10-4

HANDMADE HOLIDAY FAIR: Start your holiday shopping at Alchemy Initiative’s Handmade Holiday Festival– a juried exhibit of 40 artisans. From pottery and jewelry to chocolates and quilts- this is your one-stop spot to check everyone off your holiday list! Preview Party: Fri., Dec. 2nd, 4-7pm, $20. Gen admission: Fri., 7-9pm and Sat., Dec. 3rd 10-6pm, $4 adults/kids under 5 free. Drop and Shop: Parents, drop your child off at Bisque, Beads, & Beyond for a two-hour art project while you shop. Hands-on for your child, hands-free for you! Special hours on Saturday only. Call BBB to reserve your child’s spot: 413-442-9033. For more info, visit www.AlchemyInitiative.org or call 413-236-9600. 40 Melville St., Pittsfield, MA (next to the CYC and Boys and Girls Club).

Lego KidsFest

Legos are great for creative free play! Stay tuned to the Hilltown Families Facebook page to find out how you can win tixs to KidsFest!

LEGO MANIA: The LEGO KidsFest is a giant traveling LEGO expo coming to Hartford’s Connecticut Convention Center December 2nd-4th. This hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza features millions of LEGO bricks not to mention lots of construction zones, dozens of life-sized LEGO models and displays, LEGO Universe and LEGO Games, group builds such as Creation Nation and the Mystery Mural, live LEGO Master Builders, and so much more covering three acres of space. Five identical 4.5 hours sessions are available. Tickets are $18 for kids and $20 for adults. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.LEGOKidsFest.com

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Nov 19th-25th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Read the rest of this entry »

Family-Friendly Thanksgiving Holiday Farmers’ Markets in the Berkshires

Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Markets

Buy local for your Thanksgiving meal! Farmers' markets happening in the Berkshires this weekend.

Given the remarkable success of past Holiday Farmers’ Markets, Berkshire Grown will host four markets in 2011 with a north and south county presence: Thanksgiving markets will take place in Great Barrington on Saturday, November 19, and in Williamstown on Sunday, November 20. A second set of markets will take place again, both in the same locations on December 17, the Saturday before Christmas.   Read the rest of this entry »

Support Local Food Drives

Support Local Food Drives

"More families than ever before are seeking food assistance across western Massachusetts. Combine stagnant wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and exponential increases in heating costs, and the result is that many households just can’t make ends meet." - Consider donating food this holiday season and/or conducting a food drive in your neighborhood, office or school.

The Amherst Survival Center distributes turkeys and Thanksgiving food boxes to over 350 local families every year!  However, this cannot happen without generous donations from the community.

Currently, the center is seeking donations of 100 frozen turkeys, canned goods (especially holiday items such as pie fillings), boxed items (like macaroni and cheese), and/or gift certificates to local grocery stores so that families can purchase their own food. – For more information and to check on the center’s needs, call at 549-3968 or e-mail Tracey at tracey@amherstsurvival.org.

ORGANIZE A FOOD DRIVE

One great way to collect food for the survival center would be to hold a food drive within your neighborhood- get your kids to help organize it!  They’ll learn a lot and you’ll collect tons of items. The Food Bank of Western Mass offers these tips for conducting a food drive:

  • Create a theme.
  • Set a date for well in advance.
  • Publicize!
  • Educate others about why this is important.
  • For canned food drives, please keep collection containers to a size that can be lifted.

For more information and support on putting together a food drive in your neighborhood, call The Food Bank of Western Mass at 413-247-9738.

  • Know of a food drive in your community? Share it HERE.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Reese Derrenberge]

Suggested Events 11/27/10-12/03/10

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Gingerbread houses on display last weekend at the Hartsbrook Winter Fair in Amherst, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

BEST BETS

In the evening on Friday, November 26th from 4:30-10pm  – MOONLIGHT MAGIC: An annual village tradition to kick-off the holiday season.  Stores, galleries and restaurants are open.  Luminaries line the streets.  Parade at 5pm.  This year look for Santa, the Grinch, Shriners Clowns and a Snow Princess.  Music inside and out.  Trolley rides with the SF Trolley Museum.  Read more here! Shelburne Falls, MA (FREE)

On Saturday, November 27th from 12Noon – 4:30pm – ARTS & CRAFTS: Holiday gift making at Historic Deerfield. With thread and a needle museum educators will help visitors embroider a small design or initials on a cloth napkin. Make a unique napkin ring to go along with the napkin, and tie it up with a ribbon. Then decorate a card, and put it a gift bag. 775-7127 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (MUSEUM ADMISSION)

On Sunday, November 28th from 9am & 10am – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES:  7th Annual Gorge aprés Gorge at the Chesterfield Gorge.  5K ($10) at 9am.  Free family/community walk/run at 10am.  A lovely community post-Thanksgiving outing.  Read more here. West Chesterfield, MA ($, FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

On Saturday, December 4th from 10am-4pm – WINTER FAIR: Green Craftmaking and Book Fair at the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in the Brassworks building (132 Main St.) off of Route 9. Kids make holiday gifts out of recycled and natural materials. Chorus performance, baked goods. 268-3421 Haydenville, MA (FREE ENTRANCE)

And in the evening on Saturday, December 4th at 7pm – KIDS’ DANCE: Kids’ Dance Party at the Cummington Community House. Live music with Radio Free Earth.  Dance Scores led by Maureen Shea. Snacks. http://www.radiofreeearth.com Cummington, MA (>$)

On Sunday, December 5th from 3-5pm – HOLIDAY STORIES: The Meekins Library will host a holiday reading of classic tales, including: Singer’s Hanukkah tale The Power of Light, O. Henry’s unforgettable short story The Gift of the Magi, and Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Everyone is welcome.  Come read or listen and enjoy holiday treats and warm drinks. 268-7472 www.meekins-library.org Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

CRAFTY RUMPUS: On Sat. Dec. 4th from 10am-4pm, Greenfield Center School will again host a Crafty Rumpus. This is a colossal arts, crafts and music event for all ages. Musician Jay Mankita, who, according to Pete Seeger, is “one of the half dozen best songwriters today” will perform children’s music. Span of Sunshine and the Carrie Ferguson will also perform.  Rumpus hosts a 25+ booth craft fair featuring juried artisans from across the region offering fresh, lovely wares. In addition: free art and crafting workshops for kids, ages 3-12, savory and sweet foods, and a used childrens’ clothing sale.  All events free. All are welcome! For directions: www.centerschool.net and check out the Rumpus blog: www.gcsrumpus.blogspot.com. For more info: 413-773-1700

CHILDCARE SUBSIDIES AVAILABLE: For income eligible families with children ages 0-5 residing in the towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Peru, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg, and Worthington. Adult(s) must be working, or in a vocational or educational program during childcare hours to qualify for assistance. If your gross household annual income is below the limits listed, you may be eligible: Household of 2 ($50,050), Household of 3 ($56,300), Household of 4 ($62,550), Household of 5 ($67,600), Household of 6 ($72,600). Contact Jennifer Reagan for application: 230-8552 conreag@comcast.net. This Program is funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the MA Dept. of Housing and Community Development and the Towns of Chesterfield & Cummington.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!

CYBER MONDAY: On Cyber-Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving), Hilltown Families will feature five fabulous gifts for kids made by five equally fabulous Hilltown Mompreneurs … and you will be able to enter to win all five!  So when surfing online on Monday, make sure to stop by to enter to win!

HOLIDAY GIVING OPPORTUNITY: Give to the Forbes Library Annual Giving Tree to benefit children and families in Western MA. Gifts donated to the library will be distributed for the holiday season to family with financial difficulty for children 0-16yo. Bring in a brand new (or like new) unwrapped gift (or gift card) to donate to the Giving Tree. Used clothes not accepted. Drive runs from Thanksgiving through Jan. 4th. Drop off gift at the Forbes Library Children’s Department during open hours in Northampton, MA. Contact Jude McGowan for more info at 587-1010.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW: CASPER BABYPANTS GUEST DJ EPISODE

Hilltown Family Variety ShowTune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am.

This week on the HFVS is hosted by Chris Ballew of Caspar Babypants.  Featured on his playlist Elizabeth Mitchell, Van Halen, Enzo Garcia, Elvis Costello, Ella Jenkins, Mike Seeger, and many other wonderful musicians – even and interview with The Beatles!

Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • HFVS Podcast

    PODCAST: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!


    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Playgroups & Family Centers | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Listen Here

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns | ♦ On-going Events

    Saturday – 11/27

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    9-10:30am – CHRISTMAS EVENT: Breakfast with Santa at the YMCA (67 Court St.) 562-2277 Westfield, MA ($)

    9am/10am – CHRISTMAS EVENT: Elf Show at Yankee Candle followed by Santa arriving by helicopter. Full day of fun. 877-803-6890 South Deerfield, MA (FREE)

    9am-2pm – FARMERS’ MARKET:Winter Farmers’ Market in the basement of Thornes through April 30th. Food, live music and art. Northampton, MA (MARKET)

    10am – HOLIDAY PARADE: From Trinity Row Park the annual holiday parade will preceed towards the Civic Center, with Santa and Mrs. Claus and many others. Florence, MA (FREE)

    10am-2pm – HOLIDAY POTLATCH: The 4th Annual Community Holiday Potlatch happening at the Village Congregational Church. All are welcomed. Bring a gift quality item to share. Find a gift to give. Food welcomed to share during the potlatch too. Cummington, MA (FREE)

    10am-2pm – FARMERS’ MARKET:Winter Farmers’ Market at Amherst Middle School (170 Chestnut St.). Amherst, MA (MARKET)

    10am-2pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: North Amherst Farmers’ Market happens a the Big Bule Barn at SwartzFamiy Farm (11 Meadow St.). www.northamherstmarket.com Amherst, MA (MARKET)

    10am-3pm – ARTS & CRAFTS: Family Create-A-Book at the Huntington Library in honor of National Family Literacy Month. Materials will be available throughout the day for your family to write and illustrate their own keepsake book. 667-3506 http://www.thehuntingtonpubliclibrary.org Huntington, MA (FREE)

    12Noon-3pm – COMMUNITY MEAL: Montague Farm Zen House presents the weekly Montague Farm Cafe -a free, weekly family oriented meal and gathering, with healthy food, art activities, live music, and games. 367-5275 Montague, MA (FREE)

    12Noon – 4:30pm – ARTS & CRAFTS: Holiday gift making at Historic Deerfield. With thread and a needle museum educators will help visitors embroider a small design or initials on a cloth napkin. Make a unique napkin ring to go along with the napkin, and tie it up with a ribbon. Then decorate a card, and put it a gift bag. 775-7127 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (MUSEUM ADMISSION)

    12:30pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Chow Time in the aquarium at the Berkshire Museum. 443-7171 www.berkshiremuseum.org Pittsfield, MA (FREE w/museum admission)

    2pm & 3pm – THEATER: Picture Book Theatre Presents Tico and The Golden Wings and Geraldine, The Music Mouse in the auditorium at the Eric Carle Museum. 658-1100 www.carlemuseum.org Amherst, MA ($)

    1:30pm – KNITTING GROUP: Get-Together Knitting Bees at Norton Inn (across street from Elmer’s). Get cozy with other knitters next to a warm fire and enjoy the company and help of other knitters (all skill levels). Ashfield, MA (FREE)

    1pm & 4pm – MOVIE SCREENING: The Wizard of Oz (1946) starring Judy Garland will be shown at he Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. 528-0100 www.mahaiwe.org Great Barrington, MA (>$)

    1:30-3:20pm – ICE SKATING: Public ice skating at Collins/Moylan Arena (41 Barr Ave.). Skate rentals available. 772-6891 Greenfield, MA ($)

    ♦ 2-3:50pm – ICE SKATING: Public ice skating at Fitzpatrick Arena (575 Maple St.) Skate rentals available. 532-2929 Holyoke, MA ($)

    4pm – BALLET: East Street Ballet is presenting a rendition of Prokovief’s Peter and the Wolf and selections from Swan Lake. 584-5535 www.eaststreetballet.com Hadley, MA ($)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Moonlight Magic in the Village of Shelburne Falls

    Moonlight Magic in the Village of Shelburne Falls
    Friday, November 26th, 2010

    The annual Moonlight Magic kicks off the holiday season in the Village of Shelburne Falls on Nov. 26th, home of the historic Bridge of Flowers and the Glacial Potholes of the Deerfield River.  (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Moonlight Magic happens again this year on Friday, November 26th, from 4:30-10pm. A terrific family event, the annual Moonlight Magic in Shelburne Falls, MA will begins with the Lighting of the Village at approximately 4:30 pm. Hot drinks, food, baked goods and more will be sold on the streets and stores, galleries and restaurants will stay open late.

    A town parade follows the Lighting of the Village, crossing over the Iron bridge from Buckland to Shelburne. The town will be all aglow with 1,800 luminary candles lining the street and throughout the village, provide by Mole Hollow Candle Company. Santa, the Grinch, Shriners Clowns, the Snow Princess and many others will be strolling through the village bringing a bit of holiday magic into your little ones evening.

    The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum will offer rides all night in a restored trolley built in 1896 in Springfield Massachusetts, and throughout the evening local vocal and instrumental groups will fill the evening air with music. At Memorial Hall Theater, children and their families can watch cartoons on the big screen from 5:30-8pm courtesy of the Memorial Hall Association.  A cookie shop will be at the Visitor’s Center, and Santa’s Workshop will be at the Shelburne-Buckland Senior Center.

    A shuttle service will be provided by the Academy at Charlemont from 4:30-8pm, and the Iron Bridge will be open to only foot traffic so families can stroll back and forth enjoying both sides of the river.

    The Shelburne Falls Area Business Association sponsors Moonlight Magic and many local businesses make this annual event such a great family destination, including Greenfield Savings Bank, Berkshire Bank – Mass One Insurance, Franklin Regional Transit Authority, Greenfield Cooperative Bank, and McCusker’s Market.

    Thanksgiving 2010 Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

    Thanksgiving 2010 Episode

    Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
    November 20th & 21st, 2010
    WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
    Northampton, MA

    Featured Video: “That’s How A Pumpkin Grows” from Brian Vogan‘s CD, Little Songs. Video is illustrated by Alberto Cerriteno and animated by Fashionbudda Studio.

    GIVEAWAY: We’re giving away 4 DVD’s by artists we’ve featured here on the Hilltown Family Variety Show. Tune in to the radio show or podcast and find out how you can enter to win – and what we’re giving away … you’ll love it!


    PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Myspace Facebook Twitter

    PLAYLIST

    • The Missoula Coyote Choir & Friends – “Thanks” [Ask the Planet] Music
    • Ziggy Marley – “Family Time”  [Family Time]]
    • Cab Calloway & His Orchestra – “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House” [Nicky’s Jazz for Kids]
    • Dan Zanes – “All Around the Kitchen” [Family Dance]
    • Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could – “Pie” [Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could]
    • Baze and His Silly Friends – “My Family” [Toddlerville]
    • Fats Waller – “All That Meat and No Potatoes” [Nicky’s Jazz for Kids]
    • Dre Towey – “Mama Make the Mashed Potatoes” [Chester the Dog Unleashed]
    • Percy Mayfield – “Cookin’ in Style”
    • Station ID: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
    • Judy Collins – “Cook With Honey” [The Very Best of Judy Collins]
    • Patty Griffin – “Making Pies” [1000 Kisses]
    • Laurie Berkner – “Shortnin’ Bread” [Under a Shady Tree] (aired instead …)
    • Kira Willey – “Making Pie”  [Dance for the Sun]
    • Sweet Honey in the Rock – “Gratitude” [Experience… 1o0]
    • The Chenille Sisters – “Low Gravy” [Haute Chenille: A Retrospective]
    • Keller Williams – “Lucy Lawcy” [Kids]Music
    • Station ID: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
    • Laurie Berkner – “(I’m Gonna Eat) On Thanksgiving Day” [Whaddaya Think of That?]
    • Grenadilla – “The Family Song” [Grenadilla]Music
    • The Verve Pipe – “Suppertime” [A Family Album]Music
    • Forest Sun – “Winter Squash Soup” [Just For Fun]Music
    • Johnny Bregar – “Shoo Fly Pie” [Putumayo Kids Presents – Picnic Playground]
    • Bette Midler – “Blueberry Pie” [Every Child Deserves A Lifetime]

    Suggested Events 11/20/10-11/26/10

    Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    Happy Thanksgiving! If you're enjoying turkey this holiday season, there are a few local farms that raise free-ranged turkeys. This handsome heritage breed turkey is from EarthFire Farm in Ashfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

    BEST BETS

    On Saturday, November 20th from 10am-3pm – WINTER FAIR: Holiday Fair at the Hartsbrook School (193 Bay Rd.). King Winter, Gingerbread houses, craft activities, pony rides, Marionette Show, and the Pocket Person. Jump Rope Making, Candle Dipping, Games, Fabulous Gifts, and Marionette Shows. 584-3198 Hadley, MA (FREE ENTRANCE)

    Also on Saturday, November 20th at 10am – FAMILY FILM: Kids Flix Mix will be at the International Family Film series at Images Cinema (50 Spring St.). Kids Flix Mix is a collection of international animated shorts assembled by the New York International Children’s Film Festival, targeted at ages 3-8, but fun for all ages. www.imagescinema.org Williamstown, MA (>$)

    Then on Sunday, November 21st from 3-5pm – FAMILY DANCE: Community Family Dance at First Churches (enter across from the Iron Horse). There will be live music and dances will be taught to families. All ages 3yo & up. 230-7037 Northampton, MA (>$)

    MARK YOUR CALENDAR

    Friday, November 26th at 11am – THANKSGIVING PARADE: Springfield’s Big Balloon Parade is a Pioneer Valley tradition for the day after Thanksgiving. Bring the family to see larger than life balloons parade down Main Street. After the parade, enjoy refreshments and a marionette show at Tower Square. 733-3800 (FREE)

    In the evening on Friday, November 26th from 4:30-10pm  – MOONLIGHT MAGIC: An annual village tradition to kick-off the holiday season.  Stores, galleries and restaurants are open.  Luminaries line the streets.  Parade at 5pm.  This year look for Santa, the Grinch, Shriners Clowns and a Snow Princess.  Music inside and out.  Trolley rides with the SF Trolley Museum.  And more! Shelburne Falls, MA (FREE)

    On Saturday, November 27th at 1pm & 4pm – MOVIE SCREENING: The Wizard of Oz (1946) starring Judy Garland will be shown at he Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. 528-0100 www.mahaiwe.org Great Barrington, MA (>$)

    On Sunday, November 28th from 9am & 10am – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES:  7th Annual Gorge aprés Gorge at the Chesterfield Gorge.  5K ($10) at 9am.  Free family/community walk/run at 10am.  A lovely community post-Thanksgiving outing.  Read more here. West Chesterfield, MA ($, FREE)

    BULLETIN BOARD

    CHILDCARE SUBSIDIES AVAILABLE: For income eligible families with children ages 0-5 residing in the towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Peru, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg, and Worthington. Adult(s) must be working, or in a vocational or educational program during childcare hours to qualify for assistance. If your gross household annual income is below the limits listed, you may be eligible: Household of 2 ($50,050), Household of 3 ($56,300), Household of 4 ($62,550), Household of 5 ($67,600), Household of 6 ($72,600). Contact Jennifer Reagan for application: 230-8552 conreag@comcast.net. This Program is funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the MA Dept. of Housing and Community Development and the Towns of Chesterfield & Cummington.

    SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!

    HILLTOWN CLOTHING EXCHANGE: Ashfield Needles & Threads is working in collaboration with Share the Warmth to host a Free Clothing Exchange – a community hand-me-around to facilitate Recycling, Reusing, Sharing and Happiness! It starts with collecting: please drop off clean clothes and shoes in excellent condition – all seasons and sizes – in the foyer of St. John’s Church (corner of Main & South Streets in Ashfield) anytime between the afternoon of Sunday, 11/14 & Friday, 11/19. Then, come see what we have for you on Saturday, November 20th from 9am–2pm in the Ashfield Community Hall (Grange) on Main Street. Everyone is encouraged to bring family and friends and their own reusable shopping bags. Leftover items will be distributed through Share the Warmth. 628-4527

    SURVEY FOR FAMILY SERVICES IN THE HILLTOWNS: A staff representative from the Hilltown Community Health Center’s Families Together program will be at the Cummington Family Center, 33 Main St. in Cummington, on Wednesday, December 1st from 10-11am. Hilltown residents wishing to give comments, suggestions, or ideas for improvement to the program are invited to drop by and complete a survey. Anyone wishing to give input but unable to make the session may obtain a survey at the Worthington Health Center or call the health center at 238-5511 x155 to find out how to complete a survey. Families Together is funded by the Massachusetts Community Development Block Grant Program. To remain eligible for these funds, the program must annually gather this information.

    LETTER TO SANTA: The Huntington Library will have materials available from now until 12/18 to write and send a letter to Santa. The earlier these are sent, the better the chance to receive a reply from Santa before the holiday. 667-3506

    TEEN SUPPORT: Donate to “Gifts for Teens.” This program provides area gift certificates and gifts to teens ages 13 to 18 who do not traditionally qualify for local programs providing gifts for low-income families. Names of youths who qualify are acquired from several local non-profit agencies, schools, and churches. This year a much larger number of names is anticipated due to the weak economy. Please donate money or local gift certificates, so that no one has to be turned away. Checks can be made out to CHP-SBCC, with “Gifts for Teens” in the memo line. Checks and gift certificates can be mailed to 343 Main Street, P.O. Box 30 Great Barrington, MA 01230. Contact Shelley Brooks for more info or to volunteer 528-1919 x14

    NEW EXHIBIT: Nov 20 – Feb 13, Robots: The Interactive Exhibition, Springfield Museums. The wit, excitement and imagination of 20th Century Fox’s animated film Robots combine for a fun, educational experience that the whole family will enjoy. The exhibition features more than 15 interactive areas on the world of robotics. In Robot Explorers, visitors can use a robotic probe to explore underwater, deep space or the surface of Mars. Families can take a spin on the Crosstown Express, exploring robotic vehicles both real and fictional. Industrial Robots allows visitors to program an actual Ford robotic arm, and Robot Round Up explores robots in daily life. Visit www.springfieldmuseums.org for more info.

    HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW: THANKSGIVING EPISODE

    Hilltown Family Variety ShowTune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am.

    This week on the HFVS is our Thanksgiving Episode, featuring music by Keller Williams, Cab Calloway, Caspar Babypants, The Missoula Coyote Choir, Fats Waller, Patty Griffin, The Verve Pipe, Forest Sun, Sweet Honey in the Rock and many many others.

    Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

    • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
    • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.

    HFVS Podcast

    PODCAST: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Win an Entry: Gorge aprés Gorge 5K!

    7th Annual Gorge aprés Gorge
    Sunday, November 28th, 2010
    Chesterfield Gorge, West Chesterfield

    Leslie Charles of Chesterfield, MA writes: "Join us for the 7th annual Gorge aprés Gorge. We decided to add a run to it this year, so join the run and then hang around for the family fun run/walk. For both, we start at the Chesterfield Gorge and run the rough fire road out for 1.5 miles then back, following the beautiful Westfield River. If you have never been, this event is a must! The road can be muddy/icy and a bit rocky. (But easy enough for bikes and jogging strollers). After: complimentary hot chocolate/tea/coffee. Bring some treats and join the fun!" (Photo credit: Leslie Charles)

    For the past seven year, families have gathered at the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield on the Sunday following Thanksgiving for the annual Gorge aprés Gorge, a FREE community walk/run. New this year is a 5K run to benefit the Trustees of Reservation, and Hilltown Families has two entries and two mugs to giveaway to one lucky reader! Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 11/24/10 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

    ABOUT THE GORGE APRES GORGE

    Hilltown mother Leslie Charles of Chesterfield, MA has organized the event for the past seven years, a tradition she brought with her from the West Coast when she moved to Western MA with her family. The inaugural Gorge aprés Gorge was in 2004, and in the years that followed was supported by the Chesterfield Cultural Council. Join by organizer Tanya Rapinchuck of Worthington, MA this community walk/run and grown from a small group of participating families living in the Hilltowns to a community-wide event with families from the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires joining in the fun. Children who have participated since they were babies look forward to the Gorge aprés Gorge as it has become part of their yearly celebration of life in the Hilltowns.

    New this year is an exciting 5K run ($10) to raise funds for the Trustees of Reservation, starting at 9am. This is timed race with unique top finisher awards (you won’t want to miss these awards!).

    The free family fun walk/run begins at 10am.  Please leave the dogs at home and bring your own mug.

    HOW TO WIN

    Your chance to win two entries and two mugs for the Gorge aprés Gorge 5k on Sunday, November 28th (9am) at the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield, MA is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

    1. POST A COMMENT BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
    2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
    3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
    4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
    5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

    IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 11/25/10 @ 7pm (EST).

    If you don’t win you should still go!  Pre-register for the 5K at active.com, or contact Tanya Rapinchuk: 238-5595 tanya@SacredbirthMidwifery.com.  The commumity walk/run is free and open to all.  No need to pre-register.  Just pack up the family and join in the fun at 10am!

    Suggested Events 11/28/09-12/04/09

    Follow Hilltown Families on

    Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    Bittersweet growing in Western Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Click here to suggest an event

    Click here to suggest an event.

    If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

    FRIDAY AFTER THANKSGIVING

    Many activities happening on Friday, including the Old Deerfield Christmas Sampler, outdoor explorations in Ashfield, theater for kids in Amherst, glassblowing in Williamsburg and Moonlight Magic in Shelburne Falls. Click HERE for details.

    Click here to see our playlist and to listen to the HFVS podcast.

    BULLETIN BOARD

    • Jason Trotta, Executive Director of Northampton Community Music Center writes: “Dear Parents, After several weeks of discussion and planning, I am pleased to announce that the Northampton Community Music Center will be offering a “Fundamentals of Music” class designed specifically for home-schooled students in the early afternoon on Fridays beginning January 22, 2010. Class size will be 10-15 students, and we will offer two different classes for two different age groups. It will also be very affordable – only $100 for a 15-week course. If you have any questions, so not hesitate to e-mail or call. (413) 585-0001 jason@ncmc.net”

      Friday night in Shelburne Falls

    • SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, December 5th from 9-11am is the Easthampton Family Center‘s Pancake BRRRReakfast with Santa at the Pulaski Club Hall in Easthampton, MA.  For more info call Mindy at 563-7672.
    • TURKEY DINNER ALTERNATIVE: Families can Adopt a Turkey for Thanksgiving at http://www.adoptaturkey.org
    • VOLUNTEERS WANTED: 4H Youth Program seeks adult volunteers with skills in science, environment, arts, food, sewing & working with animals. 545-0611 mass4h.org
    • CALL FOR YOUTH PARTICIPATION: Seventh Annual Young Composers Festival on Saturday, January 30th , 2010. Click here for more info.
    • HILLTOWN SKIING FOR KIDS: Register by December 15th for Bill Koch Youth Ski League, held on Sundays, 2-4 pm, Notchview Reservation, Windsor, MA.  This cross-country ski program introduces young people to the lifelong sport of cross-country skiing. Have a winter of fun with relays, games on skis, and age-appropriate races to develop cross-country ski skills for ages 5 to 13. Parents and children participate in league activities.  Contact cdefrancis@MassMutual.com or call Notchview at 413-684-0148 for information.

       

      Sunday morning in West Chesterfield

    • HOMESCHOOL SKI PROGRAM: Otis Ridge Ski Area is offering a program for home schooled kids. 413-269-4444
    • R. H. CONWELL FOOD DRIVE: Students at R. H. Conwell in Huntington, MA are collecting food for the Gateway Hilltown Food Pantry, as part of a larger community effort to collect 1000 food items for the pantry. These donations help local families who are currently struggling to provide adequate food to their children. Please be as generous as possible. The food drive will run from November 23 to December 21. Items may be brought to the school.
    • VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: 2009 Pioneer Valley Fleece Fiesta on Saturday, December 5th from 1-5pm. Share in cocoa and holiday music as volunteers help Pioneer Valley homeless families with the 2nd annual Fleece Fiesta at First Churches in Northampton, MA. Volunteers will create warm, durable fleece no-sew blankets, and collect non-perishable food. Help do your part to make sure our neighbors don’t go cold or hungry this winter. No talent necessary. Anyone can help. All proceeds will go to benefit Servicenet, Inc., Western Mass’ largest mental health and human service provider. For more information on how you can help by donating fleece, food or time, contact Michael Busack at (508) 641-1546 miacahe.a.busack@gmail.com

    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | School Closings and Delays | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    SATURDAY – 11/28/09

     

    Deadline to enter to win: December 9th, 2009

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Thanksgiving Stories for Vegetarian Families

    Vegan Thanksgiving Stories for Children

    Cynthia Mosher, VegFamily Editor writes: As an adult, it can be difficult to manuveur through the Thanksgiving questions and comments that inevitably present themselves from nonvegan friends, family members, and plain old strangers. For children, it can be even more difficult and cause them to question their vegan lifestlye. They can be delicate moments but therein lies opportunity for education, growth, and advocacy for them and for us as parents and family.

    One of the best ways to prepare for holidays like Thanksgiving is through stories. Reading to your child or listening to him or her read is something all children love. Selecting a topic that can help your child appreciate the ethics of being a vegan will go a long way in reaffirming what they already know but are made to question again and again in our nonvegan world. Here are a few books specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday, plus a few others that are more general in topic, reviewed by Alissa Finley:

    READ MORE:  Veganize Your Storytime: Books for the Littlest Vegans and Animal-Advocates

    Make a What-I’m-Thankful-For Placemat

    Make a What-I’m-Thankful-For Placemat
    by Danielle Wood

    With a table laden with turkey, gravy, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, it’s easy to come up with reasons to give thanks this holiday season. But Thanksgiving is a great excuse to pause and give thanks for more than what’s sitting on the table. This activity gives kids a chance to make a cute collage of things that make them happy, and it’s perfect décor for holiday dinnertime, or any day of the year!

    READ MORE:  Make a What-I’m-Thankful-For Placemat

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