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Volunteering together teaches children positive values, like kindness, empathy, and tolerance, and opens up channels of communication between parent and child. Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities. Ideas for December and beyond include: an intergenerational way to support veterans during the holiday season and beyond; a guide on how to self-organize a food drive to promote food security in the region; place to share in the preparation and consumption of holiday meals; collection drives to support food security and senior services; opportunities to help homeless children celebrate birthdays; connection and inclusion with people with IDD; among other ideas.

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…

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

For more than twenty years local families have received help with gifts for their children through a community project called Hilltown Holiday Help. Children of families with low to moderate income in the hilltowns are eligible to receive clothing and toys. This effort is organized by Hilltown Family Center and Hilltown Social Services programs in conjunction with the National Honor Society at Gateway Regional High School. Wish Lists will be available at Hilltown… Read More

Of all the possible ways to give back to your community during the holiday season (and the entire year, too), collecting socks might seem like the smallest of ways to make a difference. In reality, it’s not such a small gesture! The socks that you collect or donate don’t have to be boring six-packs of plain white gym socks…. they can be whimsical or even hand knitted!

Service-based learning at the Food Bank this summer.

Intergenerational volunteer work provides meaningful opportunities to give back to the community, and allows families to connect with elders while sharing their time and skills. Match your family’s interests and skills with local opportunities to start giving back!

Held for the first time this year, the Earth Day River Festival encourages communities to rally around the Housatonic! Including opportunities to explore, learn, and care for the environment, the event celebrates all that the Housatonic offers to the Berkshires and encourages responsible, conservation-minded treatment of the local environment.

This spring and summer, The Trustees of Reservations have a variety of activities planned for folks at the homestead where visitors can volunteer, experience history and learn more about this interesting place and its antique objects. These events offer a variety of opportunities to engage your local community through different interests such as community service, local history, poetry, food traditions, and ecology, and hiking.

SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible individuals and families across the country, allowing them to put healthy food on their tables.

Organized by Elms College, BioBlitz 2016 offers an important opportunity to engage in citizen science in Chicopee! Designed to identify and record as many species of living things as possible, the BioBlitz provides experiential learning opportunities for novice naturalists!

Affectionately dubbed man’s best friend, dogs have a special place in human society. Through museum exhibits, opportunities for service-based learning, and psychology-centric citizen science, families can engage in meaningful studies of all things dog!

If your New Year’s resolution is to help strengthen our community by volunteering your time and talents, The Food Bank has a number of opportunities available for you throughout the year, including a series of Family Volunteer Days continuing this weekend in partnership with Hilltown Families!

Support Hilltown Families: Vote for Hilltown Families as “Best Blog” in the Valley Advocate’s Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll for 2016!

Boxing Day: A Yuletide Tip. While we don’t collectively celebrate Boxing Day in the United States, it is celebrated across Europe and in other parts of the world. And even though you may not have someone nearby celebrating Boxing Day, families can use this celebration in other countries to inspire some new post-Christmas traditions. Read on how you can extend festive generosity into the day after Christmas.

You have an opportunity to take action and support our community. In partnership with Hilltown Families, The Food Bank will be hosting our January Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, January 16 from 9 – 11 a.m. All ages are welcome, as families are invited to help prepare food to be distributed to our neighbors in need across Western Massachusetts. Reservations are required .

Taking place across western Massachusetts, community meals held around Thanksgiving offer opportunities for communities to connect through food and for families to give back to their communities. Families can donate food, volunteer at events, or attend community meals in order to help build community!

You have an opportunity to take action and support our community. In partnership with Hilltown Families, The Food Bank will be hosting a special “Giving at Thanksgiving” Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, November 14 from 9 – 11 a.m. This will be a fun opportunity to learn about the issue of food insecurity in our region and the impact it has on the community. All ages are welcome, as families are invited to tour The Food Bank and help prepare food to be distributed to pantries and meal sites across Western Massachusetts.

In partnership with Hilltown Families, The Food Bank will be hosting a special Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, October 31 from 9 – 11:30am… join us!

There is more than enough food in America to feed every man, woman and child. Yet, here in Western Massachusetts, more than 235,000 people are at risk of hunger and health problems that come with not having enough nutritious food to eat. As individuals, charities, businesses and government, we all have a role to play in getting more food to people in need. Together, we can solve hunger and help keep our communities healthy and strong.

Volunteering together teaches children positive values, like kindness, empathy and tolerance, and opens up channels of communication between parent and child. Engaging children in community service can increase their participation as future volunteers, helping to create more resilient and sustainable communities.

In partnership with Hilltown Families, families are invited to attend a series of monthly volunteer sessions at The Food Bank of Western MA where they will help sort food, take part in educational activities, and learn how to take actions to help fight hunger. Our next Family Volunteer Day is Saturday, Sept 12!

You can take action to support our community during Hunger Action Month September is Hunger Action Month, a time when the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks unite and ask everyone to take action to fight hunger in their community. It is your opportunity to join a movement that has a real and lasting impact on our effort to feed more people than ever before. Hunger affects communities all across our… Read More

During the summer months of June, July and August, food pantries and meal sites across Western Mass. see a 45% increase in visits over the holiday season. Find out how your family can support The Food Bank this summer by volunteering together while learning about the issue of food insecurity in our region and the impact it has on the community.

Families have a unique opportunity to support The Food Bank this summer through our Family Volunteer Days! Through service-based learning, participants learn about nutrition and the importance of food security. Giving people access to fresh healthy food is an important objective we all should support. See how your family can help and how much impact you can make!

Adopting, fostering, and pet taxing are a few ways families can help local animal shelters. Making toys for animals while waiting to be adopted is yet another way to support shelters while encouraging creative-free play at home. This month in “What to Play: Play Ideas for Family & Community,” Carrie shares several DIY projects families can do together to support our furry friends and the agencies that care for them.

Your entire family can take the first steps towards supporting your community, and find out just how much fun volunteering can be. The Food Bank and Hilltown Families are holding a special Pot-Luck Breakfast Family Volunteer Day at our Hatfield facility on Saturday, May 9 from 9 – 11:30 a.m. Bring a favorite dish to share. You will have the opportunity to learn about hunger in our region, as well as helping to prepare food to be distributed to pantries and meal sites across Western Massachusetts. Pre-registration is required for this free community service event…

Westfield State students collect shoes to help in fight against global poverty Attention anyone with a closet:  Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.  That’s the message  delivered by Westfield State student and Circle K member Rebecca Talamini ’15, who organized a Soles4Souls shoe drive and collected over 880 pairs of shoes to help the poor, and 35 single shoes to donate… Read More

Thursday in national Poem in Your Pocket Day. We love what this community in Virginia organized that celebrates poetry, supported collaborations & volunteerism, and encouraged community engagement & literacy development. Check out this video and be inspired to share poetry in your community!

Families can take advantage of spring’s opportunities for service-based learning during the next month, as 16 opportunities exist for hands-on volunteer work all over western Massachusetts!

April is National Volunteer Month and there are countless GREAT reasons to volunteer with your family — meeting people, helping people, building community… The Food Bank of Western Mass & Hilltown Families Family Volunteer Day checks all those boxes and so much more. Read on and see how your family can help.

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