Students send sweet dreams
Handmade pillowcases comfort children at homeless shelter
Deerfield Elementary School students give the Greenfield Family Inn hand-made pillowcases for children staying at the shelter. From left to right, Peter Villani, 5th Grader, Thomas Michaelson, 2nd Grader, Fran Lemay, the Director of the Greenfield Family Inn and Brian Stetson, 5th Grader.
DEERFIELD — Throughout the fall, Union 38 school students sewed and stitched after school to make pillowcases for other children and families living at the Greenfield Family Inn homeless shelter this Christmas.
Huddled in the gymnasium of Deerfied Elementary School, the students from the four southern Franklin County towns gasped in excitement as a brown, terrier basset hound sniffed his way toward them.
Nipping at the heels of the tail-wagging hound was a newborn chihuahua in the arms of a smiling Lori Swanson of the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.
This week, 110 students from kindergarten to grade six donated their hand-crafted pillowcases to the Greenfield Family Inn and $200 each to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society and the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield for Hurricane Sandy victims.
As the students reached out to pet the dog, it became a chance for them to see how their generosity impacts others.
“We’re trying to help kids understand they can make a difference,” said Debra Lane, director of the Out of School Time programs for the Frontier Regional School District.
The Out of School Time program is a free afterschool program for students at the Whately, Deerfield, Sunderland and Conway elementary schools, the members of the Union 38 School District. The program provides sport games, enrichment programs and other extracurriclar activities.
Part of the Out of School Time program is to emphasize community service.
For the past five years, students have participated in community service projects, specifically ones involving the Greenfield Family Inn. The Greenfield Family Inn on Federal Street is one of the oldest shelters in the county. It opened in 1987.
Each year, the program donates locally.
“These are things kids can relate to,” Lane said.
The proximity of the Greenfield Family Inn makes it a good place for kids to understand the impact of their giving, Lane said.
“The family inn has always been a soft spot. It’s close by. They make that connection,” Lane said.
Fran Lemay, the director of the homeless shelter, said the $200 will be used for the children who temporarily reside there. The money would go toward buying new childrens’ movies.
The students raised the funds with a November raffle. Each day after school, tickets were drawn and prizes were awarded. Many local companies, such as Yankee Candle Co., Primo’s Restaurant, Interskate 91 and Josh Simpson Contemporary Glass donated gifts.
About 40 pillowcases and $200 will go toward Hurricane Sandy victims. Deacon John Leary from Blessed Sacrament will deliver the gifts to those who lost homes in the October hurricane.
You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.