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On a rainy evening (or two or three) very soon, all over New England, when the snow and ice are almost gone, and the temperature is 40 degrees or more, frogs and salamanders will make their annual spring migration. They wend their way from their upland winter havens to the vernal pools where they hatched to lay their fertilized eggs in the water. Sometimes, however, roads cross these ancient paths, and many of them are killed. The Wendell State Forest Alliance invites families to help our fellow amphibian neighbors avoid this fate by participating as a salamander crossing guard! Here’s how…

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!

Veterans Day, a national holiday celebrated every year on November 11th, provides communities with the opportunity to learn about and offer appreciation for the service provided by military veterans. November 11th is the perfect chance to honor our Veterans, and there are many opportunities to do so.

Service-based learning at the Food Bank this summer.

Despite the damage that invasive flora and fauna do to our local landscape, invasive species can serve as a community-based resource for citizen science, community service, and studies of environmental science. From identification to eradication, invasive species present unique educational opportunities!

In preparation for outdoor recreation and exploration season, public lands across the state need some TLC. Families can engage in service-based learning and explore their surroundings by supporting the Massachusetts DCR or Mass Audubon with upcoming volunteer clean-up and maintenance projects!

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

Service Learning can provide an inspiring context for nature exploration and the outdoors. In our Western Massachusetts communities, there are many ways at home and with local organizations that you can engage in service learning while spending time outside and learning more about our environment and the species with whom we share it.

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!

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 .

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…

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.

Currently, an estimated 50 million people across The United States are food insecure – a truly unsettling statistic. National Nutrition Month challenges us to take pause and consider the absolute fundamental importance of eating, and eating smartly. While wonderful organizations such as The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts have this issue on the front burner constantly, their very own Chris Wojcik outlines why we need to always be aware of food security and learn how we can do something to help. Hilltown Families is proud to partner with The Food Bank, hosting a very special community engaging volunteer day. Read on for more information.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts & Hilltown Families present Family Volunteer Days! Over the years, Hilltown Families has partnered with The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in several ways, offering families in the region opportunities to engage in service-based learning while volunteering together as a family in support of food security in our region. We’ve organized a field trip and a couple of virtual food drives and told you how you… Read More

This month, Hilltown Families will be entering our 10th year! We will also be participating in our 1st ever Annual Appeal through Valley Gives this Wednesday, December 10th! Your tax deductible donation to Hilltown Families during Valley Gives will help us continue to support community building and community learning initiatives throughout western MA! Supporting Education through Community Engagement For nearly a decade, Hilltown Families has been working towards creating resilient and sustainable… Read More

This past Saturday, November 22nd, was the third Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event, a one of a kind event for families to volunteer together in a morning of community service! From teens to tots to grandparents, over 200 folks were able to generate 600 hours of community service at this intergenerational event for different non-profit and community organizations in our region that support education, children’s welfare, and human services.

Engage in some furry family community service by becoming a foster family for a local animal shelter or humane society! Cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, and even birds await foster placements all over western Massachusetts, and providing a foster home to pets waiting adoption is a fantastic way to not only enjoy some animal companionship but to offer a much needed service to your community!

Hilltown Families will host our 3rd Family Community Service Event on Saturday, November 22nd from 10am-1pm at Leeds Elementary School in Northampton, MA, with five hands-on volunteer stations for ALL AGES that support education, children’s welfare, and human service. Event is free and open to all, but space is limited and participating families must preregister. Join us to volunteer with your family, helping to generate 600 hours of community service in a single morning!

Let Halloween candy be a catalyst towards service-based learning this year! Post-Halloween, families can donate candy to Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to members of the military deployed overseas. Deployed members of the military don’t have access to many of the same comforts that they might at a base on US soil, and Halloween candy can be a special treat for them. On November 1 a collection will be taking place in Easthampton. Invite your kids to participate and talk with them about ways to show kindness towards people that support their community, both locally and far away.

Volunteer with your family to help local non-profits in a single free event on Saturday, November 22nd during the Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event in Northampton— a one of a kind event for families to volunteer together while educating children about important social issues and the value of community service! —

“Our goal is to give families service-based learning experiences by collaborating with local non-profits and community organizations in a single event,” says Sienna Wildfield, Executive Director of Hilltown Families. “Many families are interested in volunteering together but may find it difficult due to either a limit in time or to a lack of opportunities. Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event is an intergenerational & delightful way for families to volunteer together. It’s also an avenue for parents to discuss and educate their children on important community issues and the value of volunteering in our community.” —

Space is limited, so reserve a spot for your family today!

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