Break-athon benefit for Warm the Children in 19th year: Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center hopes to reach $100K total

  • Jakub Constantine practices breaking boards for the Warm the Children fundraiser at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center while Ben Chaisson holds. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Chip Gregory practices breaking boards for the Warm the Children fundraiser at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center while Ben Chaisson holds. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Nick Constantine practices breaking boards for the Warm the Children fundraiser at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center while Ben Chaisson holds. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Charlotte Gifford practices breaking boards for the Warm the Children fundraiser at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center while Ben Chaisson holds. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center instructor John Iverson estimates the dojo has nearly 1,800 1-inch-thick boards for the nearly 20 participating students to break during the annual break-athon on Nov. 20. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/JOHN IVERSON

Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2021 4:59:03 PM

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center on Federal Street is aiming to break a grand total of $100,000 raised for Warm the Children over 19 consecutive years of its break-athon.

This year’s break-athon fundraiser will be held Saturday, Nov. 20, at 9 a.m. at the tae kwon do studio. The public is invited to stop by, watch the students break the nearly 2,000 boards and give donations to benefit Warm the Children, the charity overseen by the Greenfield Recorder that helps to provide warm clothing for families in need across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region.

The Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center started hosting the break-athon for Warm the Children in 2002. According to owner and instructor David Johnson, the center has since raised a total of $95,854.

Checks can be made out to “Warm the Children” and mailed to the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center at 102 Federal St. to support the dojo’s fundraising total. Donations can be made as single, flat-rate donations or by pledging a small amount per broken board.

Fundraising for the studio’s 2021 tally officially began with collections from a demonstration at the Great Falls Festival, formerly called Pumpkin Fest, in Turners Falls in October.

“The break-athon is next,” Johnson said. “We’re hoping with pledges and flat donations we’ll do very well.”

Instructor John Iverson estimated the dojo has nearly 1,800 1-inch-thick boards for the nearly 20 participating students to break. Usually techniques for breaking boards aren’t taught until after students complete their first major promotion, but the break-athon is a special event where even younger students are taught how to properly break boards so they can participate.

“They learn to do it safely, and get a great taste of what’s coming in further development if they stick with tae kwon do,” said instructor Charlotte Gifford.

Speaking during a class this week, nearly all students said they had participated in the break-athon previously. All of the students were aware of the way the Warm the Children fundraiser benefits their community.

“It’s for warming children — it’s in its name,” said Sam Edson, 7.

He is participating for the first time with his twin brother, Lucas, and their older brother, James.

“I think it’s really awesome that kids get to help just by breaking boards,” said James Edson, 11. “It’s amazing, and just really kind and heartwarming.”

Peter Harrington, 49, said he has been a member of the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center for more than 20 years. However, this is his first time participating in the fundraiser as he had been away for the past 26 years while serving in the Army, from which he recently retired.

“I have been following Warm the Children when it’s been happening, and for me this is a very exciting opportunity to give back to children that need it,” Harrington said. “Having grown up myself as one of those children that needed clothes to be warm and couldn’t afford it this is, to me, a super awesome opportunity to give back.”

Nicholas Constantine, 12, said this is his third year participating in the break-athon.

“The fact that we’ve raised almost $100,000 for Warm the Children is amazing,” Nicholas said. “Even during COVID, last year, we were still able to help a little bit. I’ve learned over the years it’s not about the money; it’s about the children.”

Once the boards are broken on Nov. 20, Johnson said, the pieces of wood are bagged up and sold for use as kindling in wood-burning stoves at $5 per bag. This money also goes to benefit Warm the Children. Bags of kindling can be reserved now by calling the studio at 413-774-5395.

“We’re really looking forward to generating as much money for the kids as we possibly can,” Johnson said.

One of the most exciting aspects of the annual fundraiser, Johnson continued, is to see young kids working hard to earn money to support other kids in need.

“I don’t know how it gets better than that,” he said.

To send a tax-deductible donation, checks may be made out to “Warm the Children” c/o The Greenfield Recorder, P.O. Box 1367, Greenfield, MA 01301. Donations sent directly to the Recorder will go toward Warm the Children, but will not be counted toward the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s fundraising tally.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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