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Berkshires Beat: Berkshire Athenaeum teams up with Boston Bruins for PJ Drive
01:32PM / Monday, February 27, 2017
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To encourage participation, the Boston Bruins offer special prizes to the top three collectors.

Pajama jam: The Berkshire Athenaeum is teaming up with the Boston Bruins to participate in their annual pajama drive to benefit DCF Kids (Department of Children and Families) and Cradles to Crayons. The PJ Drive's goal is to collect 10,000 pairs of new pajamas for children and teens in need across the stat, including Pittsfield.

The Boston Bruins PJ Drive runs through March 15. The library will be collecting new pairs of pajamas for babies, children and teens. Please bring new pajamas to the library's Children's Department.

Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson and his wife, Siw, started the PJ drive during the Boston Bruins 2007-08 season as a way to give to give back to their community. The couple collected 1,600 pairs of pajamas for Cradles to Crayons which connects with social service agencies across the state to identify specific children in need.

To encourage participation, the Boston Bruins offer special prizes to the top three collectors: first place, street hockey clinic with Bruins alumnus; second place, special Bruins Mascot (Blades) appearance; third place, 200 commemorative Bruins PJ Drive pucks. For more information, please contact Pearson at 413-499-9480, ext. 5.

Food for thought: Williams College has joined The Campus Kitchens Project, the leading national nonprofit empowering students to fight hunger and food waste, with the launch of its own Campus Kitchen. The student-led effort will formalize a collaboration between existing on-campus student food recovery group, Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus (WRAPS), and Moo-Mami, a student cooking group.

By collecting surplus food from the on-campus dining facility and developing partnerships with local social service agencies, the student-led organization will turn this unused food into healthy meals for those in need. With the launch of the program, the Campus Kitchen at Williams College will become the 60th Campus Kitchen to join the national network. The Campus Kitchen at Williams is supported by a grant from CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America.

At Campus Kitchens across the country, students lead efforts to combat food waste and hunger by transforming surplus food from dining halls, community gardens, restaurants, and grocery stores into healthy meals. With support from the school’s self-operated dining services provider, the Campus Kitchen at Williams will begin operations by picking up food three nights a week from on-campus dining halls, chilling the food for 24 hours, and then packaging the meals for deliveries made to multiple affordable housing communities in North Adams.

In the last academic year, student volunteers with The Campus Kitchens Project recovered more than 1.3 million pounds of wasted food and served nearly 350,000 meals to those in need. Student volunteers with the national organization also work to promote sustainable solutions to address hunger and food insecurity in their communities.

Grants available: The Lenox Education Enrichment Foundation (LEEF) is currently accepting grant applications from teachers, parents, students, non-profits and Lenox residents with projects that inspire creative thinking, build confidence and promote teamwork in Lenox Public School students.

Launched in 2003, LEEF is an endowed fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Since then, the initiative has awarded nearly $65,000 in grants for projects, funding an average of 6-7 new programs per year. These opportunities include: class field trips; visiting speakers; artists-in-residence; extracurricular activities; and more.
The application deadline was recently extended to Wednesday, March 15. To learn more and apply for a grant of up to $1,000 submit a proposal online.

ARC scholarships: Berkshire County Arc announces its 2017 scholarship award program. High school seniors pursuing undergraduate education in the field of human services are eligible to apply, and students pursing degree programs including psychology, social work, special education, rehabilitation counseling and related courses of study will be given consideration.

The selection of award winners will be based upon prior involvement in volunteer or paid activities with individuals with disabilities, the potential to contribute to the field of human services and academic achievement. An independent panel of community members will select the winners and determine the amount of each award up to the scholarship maximum of $1,500. The awards are made possible through fundraising efforts including Berkshire County Arc’s Annual Golf Classic.

Applications are available through area high school guidance offices or by contacting the Berkshire County Arc office at 413-499-4241, ext. 244. The application deadline is March 17.

STEM extension: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the lead partner for the Berkshire Early Learning Lab Improving Teacher Quality program, announces the campus recently was awarded nearly $324,000 to continue the project in 2017, as it has been extended to a fourth year by the state's Department of Higher Education.

The grant, which began in October 2013 as a three-year, $50,000-per-year project, serves Berkshire County preschool through second grade teachers by providing rich opportunities for these educators to learn about and implement the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education model. With additional support based on MCLA’s strong performance, as well as the addition of this fourth year, the grant now totals more than $1 million to benefit professional development of early educators in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the Berkshires, according to Cynthia Brown, vice president of academic affairs at MCLA.

According to the program's coordinator, Douglas McNally, additional funding through the years supported the addition of a STEAM coach who visits classrooms to model effective integrated STEAM-based lessons, and supports early educators as they develop lessons of their own based on grant-funded activities. Sites presently being served include North Adams Public Schools, Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, Northern Berkshire School Union, Pittsfield Public Schools, Head Start and Child Care of the Berkshires.

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