County Fare | The Boy Scout with the big heart helps families for the holidays


The Salvation Army can feed about 20 more families this Christmas, thanks to Andrew Daniels.

The 13-year-old donated about 20 turkeys to the Pittsfield charity Monday afternoon. He also donated 30 other turkeys to organizations in the northern Berkshires.

"Every year, he's doing something for somebody," said Mark Brown, Andrew's grandfather. "We decided this year that we're going to do the whole turkey thing."

In past years, the North Adams boy donated to local charities and disaster relief efforts in Haiti and Oklahoma.

On a trip to California six years ago, he gave his money to homeless people he saw.

Capt. Darlene Higgins of the Salvation Army in Pittsfield accepted the donation Monday.

"To see people come from the community like that — it really warms our hearts," she said.

She plans to use the turkeys for the Christmas assistance program for holiday meals. About 300 applications have been received for the Christmas assistance program.

"The more we get, the more we can give out," she said.

Andrew also made turkey deliveries to First Congregational Church in North Adams, the Adams Council on Aging and the Mary Spitzer Center in North Adams, and might make a few more donations.

Outside his charitable activities, Andrew is a Civil War buff and an active member of the Boy Scouts, which his grandfather refers to as his "lifeline."

He has been raised by his grandparents for the past 11 years.

"He's come a long way from where we had him," Mark Brown said. "We're doing everything possible to make sure that he can do good in life, because he does have autism."

"For what he has, and what he's accomplished — it amazes all of us," he said.

"He is very caring," said Marcia Brown, Andrew's grandmother.

Charity starts young for Hancock girl

Melissa Dimassimo is proud of her 8-year-old daughter, Isla, who has a heart for all things great and small.

Dimassimo said this year that her family saw a news report about responders at a fire scene who did not have a specialized oxygen mask designed for canines when they needed one. The story went on to report about how a Girl Scout troop raised money to buy an oxygen mask for dogs because their fire department didn't have one.

"As soon as the story was over, my daughter said, 'I want to do that,'" Dimassimo said.

Isla decided that she would raise the money by running a lemonade stand during her family's recent tag sale. Because of the donors inspired by the girl's project, she raised more than $100 in a few hours.

"We weren't sure who was going to receive the mask at first, but decided to donate it to the Richmond Fire Department," Dimassimo said. "We live in Hancock (on the Richmond side), and if we call 911, the Richmond department responds first."

Melissa Dimassimo said this isn't Isla's first inspiration to help others. Last year, Isla grew out and donated her hair to Wigs for Kids, a program that makes wigs for children who lose their hair to chemotherapy or other medical treatments.

The year before, Isla asked everyone who came to her birthday party to bring gifts for pets, instead of gifts for her, because she wanted to give gifts to the dogs and cats at the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter.

Daisy Girl Scout troop collecting for S.A.F.E

Speaking of helpful children, the Williamstown-Lanesborough first-grade Daisy Girl Scout troop is collecting gently used stuffed animals to donate to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (S.A.F.E.), a national organization that provides clean, good-condition stuffed animals to children in challenging circumstances. Beneficiaries include families affected by recent hurricanes.

Gently used stuffed animals can be delivered to the bin by the main office at Williamstown Elementary School, 115 Church St., Williamstown, through Nov. 17.

For more information, email or visit to learn more about the national program.

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


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