Several hundred well-wishers filled the Olde Heritage Tavern in Lenox on Sunday afternoon to help the couple burned out of their home in the town of Washington on Jan. 17 get back on their feet.

The event, which included a buffet, raffle and silent auction, raised $12,500 for Anne Hynes and Mitchell Pratt, who grew up in Lenox Dale. The engaged couple is renting the home of her sister and brother-in-law, Amy and Mike Cullett, on Deborah Avenue in Pittsfield.

"It was unbelievable to see that many people there to support us," said Hynes, who plans to use the proceeds to replace some of the possessions lost in the fire, including clothes and daily essentials.

Caroline Roche Pratt, manager of the Glad Rags clothing boutique in Lenox and the sister-in law of Mitchell Pratt, organized the benefit, with more than a little help from their friends and relatives, including Lynne West, Kathy Roche, Dave Roche, Ashley Sykes, Jodi Standring, Mary Toole and Jimmy Cornwell.

"Our community was so fabulous, everyone was so sweet, kind and generous," said Roche Pratt, crediting tavern owners John and Jackie McNinch and their staff for donating the food and the use of the Heritage for three hours.

Although Hynes and Mitchell Pratt, who works at Oldcastle Stone Products in Lee, lost two cats in the fire, their dogs, Otis and Ava, was rescued by Michael St.


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Martin of Huntington, who spotted the blaze while driving by on South Washington State Road and alerted firefighters.

Also surviving the fire were the couple’s two roosters and 10 hens, whose coop was untouched by the flames. They’re now living in Lenox Dale, having joined the 18 chickens in a cozy coop at the home of John, Cyndi and Dave Pratt.

Hynes and her fiancé are planning to rebuild on their property in Washington within six months to a year, pending final insurance settlements.

"Everything is greatly appreciated from the bottom of our hearts," the couple wrote in a letter of thanks that they read to the crowd at the benefit. "We are so blessed to have such wonderful family, friends, and to be part of this truly amazing community. We will never be able to repay the generosity and selflessness everyone has shown us. Our hearts are filled with love and thankfulness."

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A benefit will be held next month to help another local family who also lost their home in a fire earlier this month.

On Sunday, Jan. 5, a fire tore through a Hinsdale residence, including the adjacent apartment of Doug Hand, a former employee of Matt Reilly’s Pub, where he lived with his fiancee, Rebekah Hall and their 3-year-old son Jaxxon. Their apartment, along with personal belongings, suffered major smoke and water damage. They were only able to retrieve their pets, a few articles of clothing and some family photos.

They are currently sharing a single hotel room in Pittsfield until they can find another place to live while their apartment is being rebuilt.

On Sunday, Feb. 9, from 4 to 7 p.m., Matt Reilly’s Pub & Restaurant in Lanesborough will host a benefit spaghetti dinner to help the family. There will also be 50-50 and Chinese raffles.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 and under, and can be purchased in advance at the restaurant or on the night of the event.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires,"
is compiled by Eagle staffers.

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Former Mount Greylock Regional High School student and Williamstown native Molly Carson, now of Bennington, Vt., has been named Miss Vermont International 2014.

Based on her resume, personal and professional background, community service, and dedication to promoting her chosen platform, the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org), Carson was selected from among dozens of applicants to represent Vermont in the Miss International pageant to be held in Jacksonville, Fla., July 28 through Aug. 3.

According to the Miss International website (miss-international.us), "The International Pageant system promotes today’s young women and their accomplishments. Being the premiere pageant for young women has given Miss International a chance to open doors for women everywhere."

Carson left Mount Greylock Regional High School early, after her junior year in 2011-12, to attend Clarkson University’s Early College Program at The Clarkson School.

Now a sophomore at Clarkson University majoring in psychology and biology with a minor in business, she also is an Airman First Class with the Vermont Air National Guard.

Carson is taking the spring semester off from college to go to basic training in Texas and technical school in Mississippi. This summer she will be working full time at the Air Force base in Burlington, Vt., and then will resume her education at Clarkson in the fall while continuing her work with the Air Guard.

As Miss Vermont International, her duties will include making personal appearances throughout the year at community parades, festivals, and special events where she will raise awareness and support for Wounded Warrior Project.

For further information about the Miss International pageant, sponsorship opportunities, Carson’s work with Wounded Warrior, and her appearance schedule, email lucygardnercarson@msn.com.

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The RECONNECT Vocational Project (RVP) is a Berkshire Community Action youth development program that engages and empowers young people through vocational training, career readiness workshops, community service events, subsidized work experiences and holistic mentoring.

This year’s RVP participants are training in culinary arts and using their skills to give back to the community. During the holiday season, the RVP participants launched a baking business that produced festive cookie trays and specialty bread loaves. From the proceeds, they have chosen to donate $110 to The Eagle’s Santa Toy Fund. The RVP participants also cooked a Thanksgiving feast for the Christian Center, catered a holiday dinner for community partners, and are helping to prepare and serve a meal at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.