COUNTY FARE | Pittsfield, Sheffield drop-off sites for Operation Christmas Child

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Sites in Pittsfield and Sheffield will be among 5,000 U.S. drop-off locations collecting shoebox gifts for children overseas during Operation Christmas Child's National Collection Week from Nov. 12-19.

Families, churches and groups are busy transforming empty shoeboxes into fun gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items.

Samaritan's Purse, a nonprofit international relief organization, partners with local churches across the world to deliver these tangible expressions of love to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine. For many of these children, it will be the first gift they ever have received.

This year, Pittsfield and Sheffield-area residents hope to collect more than 9,345 gifts to contribute to the 2018 global goal of reaching 11 million children in countries like Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda and Ukraine.

"We are honored to be linking arms with our community to help children around the world experience the true meaning of Christmas," said regional director Cecil Pollydore. "These simple gifts show God's love to children facing difficult circumstances."

Drop-off sites include Grace Church Congregational, 1055 Williams St., Pittsfield, and Sheffield Chapel, 1970 N. Main St., Sheffield.

Collection hours at Grace Church are 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Nov. 12-15; 2 to 6 p.m. Nov. 16; 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 17; 12:30 to 4 p.m. Nov. 18; and 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 19.

Sheffield Chapel's collection hours are 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, Nov. 12-16; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 17; 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 18; and 9 to 11 a.m. Nov. 19.

Those interested in participating in the project can learn more at samaritanspurse.org.

Senior walking club

The Lee Council of Aging kicked off its new Keep Moving Walking Club with a community Go 4 Life Family Fun Walk on Sept. 29.

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Arriving at the senior center gym at 10 a.m., seniors and their families were greeted by Janet Warner, retired Lee Elementary School gym teacher, and her sister, Carol Quinn. Lynn Wolf, communications manager for the Massachusetts Councils on Aging, was also present for the walk.

A variety of games were set out for the children, and Warner led the group in some stretching exercises before the walk. One group gathered in the gym for its walk, while others took the challenge and walked the block around Main Street with COA directors Pat DiGrigoli and Susan Holian. Families also had an opportunity to participate in a yoga class led by Quinn.

After the walk, the seniors and their families were treated to a picnic by Warren and Carol Robertson.

The event was funded by a grant awarded to the Massachusetts Association Councils on Aging by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

The walking club is open to seniors of all levels. Seniors can choose to walk in the senior center gym, 21 Crossway St., at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or walk outside on their own or as a group. Weekly incentives and motivational newsletters encourage participants to stay on track.

For information, call the Lee Senior Center at 413-243-5545.

Addiction services award

Dr. Jennifer Michaels of the Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services was honored by the Association for Behavioral Healthcare during its recent Salute to Excellence awards ceremony at the Boston Marriott in Newton.

Michaels received the Francis O'Brien Award for Addiction Services. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a personal long-term commitment to the goals of ABH and who have provided leadership and support to the association, its members and staff around mental health issues.

Michaels has pushed the boundaries for effective, cutting-edge addiction treatment for over 25 years. She identified the increase in opioid misuse and addiction in the Berkshires as early as 2003, and in response created a number of programs expanding access to medication-assisted treatment specifically targeting vulnerable populations. Beyond her role at the Brien Center, Michaels dedicates her time to educating medical students, residents in psychiatry, allied health professionals, public officials, and the community at large about substance use disorders and treatment.

ABH is a statewide organization representing over 80 community-based behavioral health care provider organizations.

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


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