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Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the store with the ornament attached.

Berkshires Beat: Home Instead Kicks Off 'Be A Santa To A Senior' Program

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Holiday cheer

The local Home Instead Senior Care office serving Berkshire County is inviting the community to come together to bring some comfort and holiday cheer to area seniors through its Be a Santa to a Senior program. Providing gifts and companionship at a time when seniors may need it most, the program is made possible through the generous support of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, numerous volunteers and members of the community.

Holiday shoppers are invited to support Be a Santa to a Senior by visiting a participating location where Be a Santa to a Senior trees will be on display from Nov. 10 to Dec. 29. Those trees will be decorated with paper ornaments featuring seniors' first names and their desired gifts. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the store with the ornament attached. There's no need to worry about wrapping — community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local seniors in time for the holidays.

Be a Santa to a Senior trees can be found at the following locations: Stop & Shop Supermarket, 876 State Road, North Adams; Stop & Shop Supermarket, 660 Merrill Road, Pittsfield; Stop & Shop Supermarket, 1 Dan Fox Drive, Pittsfield; and Berkshire West Athletic Club, 100 Dan Fox Drive, Pittsfield.


PTO fundraiser

The Kittredge Elementary PTO will be hosting a fundraiser through Barnes & Noble on Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19. Patrons shopping at the Pittsfield bookstore on either day can make a donation to the parent-teacher organization by providing the book fair ID No. 12264016. A percentage of the net sale will be contributed to the Kittredge PTO.


Welcome to Williamstown

'Portrait of Achille Deban de Laborde' by French artist Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet has been acquired by the Clark Art Institute.

The Clark Art Institute has acquired "Portrait of Achille Deban de Laborde" (1817) by French artist Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet. The large oil on canvas painting of a young boy dressed in military regalia is a touching memorial to the sitter's father, Baron Jean-Baptiste Deban de Laborde, who was killed at the battle of Wagram in 1809 when Achille was barely a year old. The portrait is currently on view in the Clark's galleries.

Dubois-Drahonet primarily worked as a portraitist but also produced a number of studies of military uniforms. His work was notable for its clean lines and a command of light similar to that of his contemporary Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Drahonet exhibited at the Salon from 1812 to 1834 and was awarded a medal in 1827. The portrait of Achille Deban de Laborde combines Drahonet’s talent for portraiture with his detailed knowledge of military uniform and accoutrements.

"Portrait of Achille Deban de Laborde" is as much a memorial to the sitter’s father as it is a portrait of a young boy. Eight-year-old Achille Deban de Laborde is dressed in the highly embellished uniform of a First Empire Hussar (cavalryman). Surrounding him are objects that tell the story of his late father's military service. Achille leans on a ceremonial sword, which was awarded to his father for his bravery and victory as the Chef d'escadron (squadron leader) in the 1800 Battle of Marengo. Jean-Baptiste's Légion d'honneur medal, awarded in 1804, hangs in the upper left of the painting. The number "8" on the plumed shako cap and sabretache, or flat pouch that hung from a cavalryman's belt, indicate that Jean-Baptiste was part of the Eighth Hussar Regiment. In 1805 he rose to the level of colonel. In the lower right of the portrait, Jean-Baptiste's sabre and scabbard rest on the floor.

Given the strong sentiment of this portrait, it is not surprising that Achille followed in his father's footsteps and pursued a military career. He rose to the rank of colonel of the Fourth Cuirassiers Regiment in 1861. During the Second Empire, Achille also inherited his father's baronetcy after his brother, Edouard Cesar de Laborde, died childless in 1851.


Music to their ears

Berkshire Children and Families has received a grant from the Feigenbaum Foundation in the amount of $20,000 to support BCF's Kids 4 Harmony after-school music program. Established by the late Carolyn Mower Burns in 2012, Kids 4 Harmony is transforming the lives of children through music, offering free, intensive classical music instruction to children and youth from under-resourced communities.

Initially established at Morningside Community School in Pittsfield, Kids 4 Harmony now also operates at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams. The program is inspired by Venezuela's El Sistema movement, a values-driven ensemble-based musical approach with a social justice mission. With year-round concerts and a variety of less formal events, the ensemble most recently performed with renowned pianist Emanuel Ax at the Kids 4 Harmony Annual Gala. Earlier this year, four students were chosen to participate in the National Take a Stand Festival in Los Angeles, which culminated in a concert under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the LA Philharmonic.

This Feigenbaum Foundation grant allows Kids 4 Harmony to open opportunities for children to grow their academic skills, self-confidence, discipline, citizenship and widens their aspirations through music and community building. The children's accomplishments generate pride and a sense of social connection, which is woven into the cloth of their families and communities.


Free smoke alarms in Lee

The American Red Cross' Home Fire Campaign is partnering with the Lee Fire Department to install free smoke alarms in area residences on Dec. 2. Lee residents wishing to participate can register for free smoke detectors and home safety visits with the Lee Fire Department at 413-243-5547 by November 26. There is no age restriction.

Teams consisting of a Red Cross volunteer and a Lee firefighter will visit pre-registered Lee homes to install smoke alarms as well as educate the homeowners on fire safety and personal preparedness.  The campaign will kick off at the Lee Fire Department headquarters on Dec. 2.

Lee residents wishing to participate should meet two criteria: the home was built prior to 1975 and the current smoke detectors are 10 years old or older. The goal of this campaign in Lee and across the country is to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next four years.


Happy ending

Southwestern Vermont Health Care has installed its third StoryWalk, an innovative way for children to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time, at Molly Stark Elementary School in Bennington, Vt. The project takes the Caldecott Medal-winning children's book "Officer Buckle and Gloria" by Peggy Rathmann outside. This story is ideal for StoryWalk because of the giggly antics and colorful images. Each page of a book is laminated, attached to a wooden post, and set up along a path. Children literally walk through the story. Children run from stake to stake to see what happens next.
The StoryWalk concept was originally created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., with the help of Rachel Senechal of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in 2007. SVHC’s StoryWalk began this past summer when AmeriCorps 2016-2017 VISTA volunteer Rachel Newton initiated a project to install the area's first StoryWalk at Willow Park in Bennington with support from Stewart's Shops. This fall, the program continued at Bennington and Pownal Elementary Schools under direction from Americorps 2017-2018 VISTA Volunteer Adriana Hazelton. Today, StoryWalks have been installed in all 50 states and 10 different countries. Additional StoryWalks are planned for Monument Elementary and the Village School of North Bennington in November.

Reading proficiency among elementary students in Bennington is below the Vermont-state average. StoryWalk  provides a new way for children to develop an enjoyment for reading. By installing stories on school grounds classes can take turns being outside and reading a great story together.


In the bag

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Berkshire County invites members of the community to participate in the annual holiday collection of gift bags to patients receiving mental health services at Berkshire Medical Center.

NAMI Berkshire County is collecting items for 40 gift bags. Examples of items to be donated include warm hats, gloves and socks, crossword puzzles, Sodoku, word find games, sweet treats (such as chocolate), playing cards and healthy, individually-wrapped snacks. Donated items can be dropped off at the NAMI Berkshire County office, which is located at 333 East St., Room 417,  in Pittsfield, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The deadline to donate or drop off items is Wednesday, Dec. 13.


Boot up

The Dalton Community Recreation Association is taking registration for the winter session of Fitness Boot Camp, which runs from Nov. 13 through Feb. 7. The Fitness Boot Camp at the CRA is the longest running fitness boot camp in the Berkshires. Since its first session, hundreds of folks from around the area enlisted and participated.

Instructors will hold classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 5:30 6:30 a.m. Monday and Friday classes emphasize strength and overall conditioning. Activities are designed to build core strength and muscular and cardio endurance. Wednesday classes emphasize cardio.

Men and women are welcome to join. Participants of all ages (16 and up) and capabilities are encouraged to join. Instructors will modify the exercises to fit the needs of the participants. Member cost is $175. Cost for non-members is $220. Register at the Dalton CRA, 400 Main St.

Tags: senior citizens,   

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