County Fare: Girl embarks on food drive for CHP Family Services


The folks at Community Health Programs in Great Barrington shared with County Fare this week a story about a little girl with a big heart.

CHP said that on a recent Tuesday morning, a young mother and two children stopped into the CHP Family Services building. "The mother asked if food donations accepted at our location will go to local families and if we were taking donations. CHP staff welcomed them and went to help her. The mother shared the story that her young daughter had heard at her preschool that there are families who need food. Somehow this captured little Charlie's imagination and she began to ask her mother questions and wanted to help."

The mother said Charlie was "very persistent" and decided to support her daughter's desire to help others. Charlie asked family, friends and neighbors to donate non-perishable foods. A total of three large packages of food were delivered to CHP Family Services that day, loaded with good things to eat like canned vegetables, tuna, peanut butter, pasta and sauce and other nutritious goods.

"We were just amazed at how such a young person could make a difference and how wonderful it is that her family helped her achieve this goal," said Michelle Derr, family services director.

We're also told Charlie and her little brother had a bit of fun after delivering the donated food playing in the playgroup area, which is free and open all young children. CHP said the girl truly embodied the Thanksgiving spirit.

Helping across borders

Berkshire resident Eddie O'Toole and his project, Berkshire Amistad, are in final preparations of shipping their 10th full 40-foot banana shipping container of supplies to help people in impoverished areas of Central America and are looking for help from the public.

O'Toole, his friends and donors have amassed enough dental, optometry and carpentry equipment to almost fill a container. What is needed now, are the small things to fill the "nooks and crannies," to fill it to capacity.

This Thanksgiving weekend, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Berkshire Amistad will have an open house at its warehouse, located at 186 Great Barrington Road (Route 41) in West Stockbridge, to show their work and collect donations.

"Come and see what we are shipping and bring small grocery bags with good clean clothing, pairs of shoes or school supplies like pens and pencils," O'Toole said. Donations of other medical and building items, like crutches, wheelchairs, hammers and screwdrivers also are welcome.

To increase awareness about Berkshire Amistad's work with Pittsfield's sister city in Malpaisillo, Nicaragua, and their work in Honduras, they have launched their new website, There, supporters will be able to see photos of the educational center they built in Guiamaca, Honduras, and find the wish list for this and future shipments, and make secure, tax-deductible donations.

For information or to arrange a drop-off time, contact Eddie O'Toole at 413-645-2003 or

Sharing stories, goodwill

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington is expanding its outreach and partnership with its annual Holiday Food Drive. From now until the end of the year, donation boxes will be available in the theater lobby between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

The Mahaiwe is partnering with the People's Pantry and the Berkshire Community Diaper Project to help provide for families in need and their pets. In addition to non-perishable food items, donations of pet food, disposable diapers, paper goods and cleaning products will be accepted.

"We also invite the public to participate in the StoryCorps 'Great Thanksgiving Listen' by interviewing family elders over the holiday weekend," said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly.

The theater earlier this year worked with StoryCorps founder Dave Isay to collect community stories. Learn more about the Thanksgiving StoryCorps project at

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


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