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Breaking boards, helping kids

  • Instructor Mikele Deziell breaks multiple boards with a flying side-kick held by Youn Sung Kim, front, and Ed Patenaude, during last year’s annual “break-athon” fundraiser for Warm the Children. FILE PHOTO

  • Master Instructor John Iverson assists 8-year-old Zack Constantine with his technique on breaking boards held by Youn Sung Kim in 2017.  FILE PHOTO

  • Students of the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center fill up bags with the leftover broken boards, which were sold as kindling last year.  FILE PHOTO

  • Broken boards pile up during the annual “break-athon.” FILE PHOTO

  • Ben Yu snaps a board with a side kick during the 2017 fundraiser. FILE PHOTO

  • Ari Chatterton breaks a board with a side-kick. The board was held by Aubrey LeDoyt.  FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Friday, October 12, 2018

GREENFIELD – There’s more than one way wood can help keep kids warm in the winter.

The Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center will help needy children when it holds its 16th annual “break-athon” at its 102 Federal St. studio on Saturday, Nov. 17. Students age 6 and older use a variety of kick, punch and elbow techniques to break pine boards, having taken donations from friends and family. The monetary contributions, made either as flat donations or a certain amount for every board broken, are collected and given to The Recorder’s Warm the Children clothing drive.

“We do it because we’re part of this community, and we don’t want to just give back to the community, but we want to try and take care of children,” said David Johnson, the studio’s owner and master instructor. “I’ve already started reaching out to the lumber companies who donate, and usually it’s Lamore Lumber, Leader Lumber (in) South Deerfield, and last year was Cowls Lumber in Amherst. They donate all the lumber ... sometimes they cut it up, sometimes we cut it up into boards that we can hold.

“Last year, I think, we had 2,400 boards,” he added. “By the time we’re done, the place is filled with lumber.”

All boards broken in the three- to four-hour public event, which begins at 9 a.m., are placed into a pile in the middle of the room. They are then placed into emptied wood pellet bags and sold as kindling, with proceeds also benefiting Warm the Children.

The third facet of the Tae Kwon Do Center’s fundraiser is a 50/50 raffle and face painting at the Great Falls Festival on Oct. 20.

The center covers all the break-athon’s overhead costs. All donations go to Warm the Children, which annually provides winter clothing, including jackets, boots and hats, to about 1,000 needy children in Franklin County.

“The interesting, exciting thing here is, when I start talking to the younger people — the kids in particular — they’re very excited about how they’re going to do something to take care of other kids,” Johnson said. “I mean, how does it get better than that? And, they know that, and they talk about it openly.”

Young student Aishah Diallo said she knows she helping a great cause.

“It feels good, and it makes you feel happy that you’re helping other children,” she said.

Julian Adams said he is proud to be “making a difference in other people’s lives.”

The studio can be found down the alleyway between the Bicycle World building and Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters on Federal Street.

To donate, send a check to: Warm the Children, c/o The Recorder, P.O. Box 1367, Greenfield, MA 01302. New clothing may be dropped at The Greenfield Recorder, at 14 Hope St., any time during the year during business hours (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

If you have a story to share about giving or receiving warm clothes during the Warm the Children campaign, contact Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.