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Neighbors: People still giving despite tough economic times

Recorder/Paul Franz
Bags of suet have been hung on trees lining Main St in Greenfield for our avian friends.

Recorder/Paul Franz Bags of suet have been hung on trees lining Main St in Greenfield for our avian friends.

Hello neighbor.

There are a few things I’d like to tell you about today and then I’ll let you know what’s going on in the county over the next week or so. But, I must warn you that it’s still pretty quiet.

Several locals, who wish to remain anonymous, decided to start the new year off in Greenfield by doing some “random acts of kindness,” one of them told me this week.

The first thing they did was hang small, red fishnet bags filled with suet in several trees on the east side of Main Street. I’m sure the cold, hungry birds appreciated it.

This person told me there will be more of those types of acts to follow, but wouldn’t give even a hint as to what we might see next.

“The acts will say something about who we are as a community,” the person told me.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

You know, I’ve been a journalist for more than a decade and I’ve written about many things, and not always good. But after doing this column for the past few months, I’m getting to know the best of the best of our county.

GREENFIELD BARBER TIM DOWD of Tim’s Barber Shop at 72 Federal St. will be traveling to Connecticut soon to offer a check to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in December.

Tim told me he’d never felt the emotions he did when he heard about young, innocent children losing their lives.

“I didn’t know what I could do, but felt that I needed to step up and do whatever I could for the school, families and community of Newtown, Conn.,” he said.

And, he did.

Tim offered to donate all proceeds from every child’s haircut between Dec. 14 and Jan. 1.

He posted his intentions on Facebook and got an overwhelming response.

“I had new people coming in from all over to get a haircut and make a donation,” said Tim. “I felt like the shop brought a big part of our small community together.”

Tim said even in hard economic times, people were willing to pull money out of their wallets for our neighbors in Connecticut.

Tim wrote to tell me he will deliver a check for $400 to the Newtown community.

Thanks Tim!

FRANKLIN COUNTY COMMUNITY MEALS PROGRAM received generous donations this year, Amy Clarke, the program’s director, told me, and it’s all because of you.

Amy said in December folks from all over the county were “exceedingly generous.”

She said the Old Deerfield Post Office filled decorated boxes with 84 pounds of food donated by patrons in memory of former employees, Postmaster Carol Angell and Paul Emanuelli.

Next door, the First Church of Old Deerfield delivered a car filled with food.

In Orange, Pete’s Tire Barn brought 500 pounds of local potatoes and 25 hams to the Orange Food Pantry.

Members of the Warwick Trinitarian and Shutesbury Community churches delivered handmade mittens, hats, scarves and toys to fill stockings.

Shoppers at Hannaford and Walmart in Orange and Stop & Shop in Greenfield purchased boxes and bags of food to be donated to local pantries, many of which ended up with the community meals program.

Faculty and staff at Greenfield Community College filled 64 boxes with food to stock the GCC Food Pantry and also donated more than $1,400 to purchase more food.

Home Depot employees in Greenfield filled bag lunches to be given at the Franklin County Community Meals site in Greenfield and individuals from throughout the county brought diapers, personal supplies, books, Beanie Babies and much more to Amy.

“Each family that came to our pantry in December left with their usual 20 to 30 pounds of food, an extra box of food or a gift card, and stocking stuffers for every child,” said Amy. “We are blessed to live in a community like this!”

You are so right, Amy.

PEARL RHODES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in Leyden held a Holiday-Ugly Sweater Day on Dec. 21 and asked all participants to bring in a nonperishable food item to donate to those in need.

After the collection was done, the school was able to deliver 86.6 pounds of food to the Salvation Army.

Principal Chris Maguire said she is very proud of her students and staff.

So are we, Chris!

JANET GERRY IN BUCKLAND told me that the January-February issue of Fine Arts Connoisseur magazine includes a feature article with color photos on the work of local artist Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957).

He is the artist I’ve told you about in a couple of my Neighbors columns.

The Buckland Historical Society is selling calendars featuring his work. Proceeds will benefit the society.

The calendars are $20 and you can buy them at Boswell’s Books and Sawyer News in Shelburne Falls, Andy’s in Greenfield, and the Buckland Public Library in upper Buckland.

Also visit: To learn more about the artist and see his paintings, visit:

BY THE WAY, our neighbors Heather Earle and Shelly Swindell, two sisters from Shelburne Falls, are buying an iconic diner in Lee.

I hear Joe’s Diner has seen its share of politicians, celebrities and locals come through its doors over the past 60 years.

I’ve been there twice and have to say that I enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere both times. It was like a step back in time.

It sounds like the sisters have closed the diner while they spruce up the interior, but they expect to reopen on Tuesday.

Heather and Shelly said they plan to add to the homemade diner dishes already on the menu.

You really should take a ride to Lee and stop in for some comfort food and a thick milkshake. I’m making myself hungry just talking about it.

FOREST MOON WILL HOLD a fundraiser, Celebrating Cancer Survivorship, on Sunday from 12:30 to 6 p.m. at Stump Sprouts in Hawley and would like people to know that it will cost $75 per person to stay overnight and use the trails there on Sunday and Monday. A buffet breakfast will also be served for that fee.

The fee for using the trails if you are not staying overnight is $12 for adults. The buffet is $15 per person.

All proceeds will go to Forest Moon so that it can offer free programs in western Massachusetts for people affected by cancer.

For more information or to make reservations, call 413-339-4265 or email:

NEW SALEM PUBLIC LIBRARY continues to do its Reading Aloud for Grown-ups program, which begins at 7:30 p.m. each evening. This year, Sally Howe and Victoria Graw will start it off by reading on Wednesday at New Salem Public Library.

On Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m., Margo Culley and Jonathan von Ranson will read at the Wendell Free Public Library.

The two final readings for the season will be back at New Salem Public Library.

On March 13, Dee Waterman and Dan Bickford will read, and on April 10 Dorothy Johnson and Scott Bourne will read.

I attended one a little over a year ago and had a wonderful time. I got to hear Mira Bartok read, though it wasn’t from her wonderful memoir, “The Memory Palace.”

I HEAR THE STATE IS STILL WAITING for Northfield to design a town flag that would join other city and town flags from across the state, which are displayed in the Statehouse in Boston.

Northfield rejected a proposal by an artist who was inspired by Northfield sixth-graders’ renderings at its town meeting in 2011, according to an article on the front page of The Boston Globe this week.

According to Tom Hutcheson, the town’s administrator, the proposed design was voted down heavily by residents who were not in favor of that particular design, but said he couldn’t describe it.

Hutcheson, who is not a resident of Northfield, said the town is waiting to see who will pick up the ball and move forward with a new design proposal.

To contact Anita Fritz, a staff reporter at The Recorder, send an email to: or call 413-772-0261, ext. 280 or her cell at 413-388-6950. You can also reach Anita on Facebook at Anita’s Neighbors. Information to be included in Neighbors may also be sent to: up to noon on the day before you want it to run.

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