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Madison Quinn has started an organization to send care packages to children fighting cancer.

PHS Student Starts Charity For Children Fighting Cancer

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — About two years ago, Madison Quinn was browsing through Instagram when she found photos of Abel.
Abel was a young boy in California fighting cancer. The photos she saw touched her and she reached out to his mother asking what he likes because she wanted to send him a get well present. It was Batman. Quinn went to the store and bought a Batman figurine and mailed it out to California. Abel took the wings off of Batman and took it with him for every single chemo treatment, and his mother sent photos of that back.
"I wanted to do something," the 15-year-old Pittsfield High School junior said. "Not enough people do it. There is a lot of bad in the world. But these kids are going through more than they ever should and they're severely underfunded, they have limited treatment because adult cancers get 96 percent of the funding and all childhood cancers get 3.8 percent."
She began sending care packages to children all over the United States fighting the same battle. Shortly after, she met Landen Palatino.
Palatino was a local boy fighting Grade 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer. She got in touch with his mother Tina Palatino and went for a visit. There the two played video games and the 8-year-old Palatino would rescue her character. They had fun. They became best friends. 
She'd be in school and Palatino would get out of treatment and be asking for her.
"We'd send each other silly selfies. He'd always ask me, in the middle of class, 'can you come over and play video games?'" Quinn said. 
Quinn entered last year's Super Landen 'Stache Dash, which raised money for Palatino, and when she arrived there was happy to see him there. Despite being 8 years old and battling cancer, Palatino stuck right by Quinn's side, running the race with her.
"He ran the whole thing by my side. We stopped and looked for fish in the water. We played on the slide and the swings," Quinn said.
Meanwhile, Quinn continued sending out care packages to children with cancer and in December she made a push to send out 60. She woke up during the mornings and collected bottles and cans. She held fundraising drives. She created an organization called Strong Little Souls to reach out to children and families all over.
"Before that, I'd send out a couple a month, maybe two or three. It was the holiday season, so maybe I could just do one big send out and it worked," Quinn said.
That has continued and this summer she went to a Pittsfield Suns game, threw out the first pitch, and collected donations and sold bracelets. She raised $2,000 that one night. 
On Aug. 27, Quinn's little friend Palatino died. 
"He's meant a lot to me and I've meant a lot to him," Quinn said. "He's always been super close."
This holiday season Quinn is again looking to send out care packages and has now set her sights on 100. She's dedicated it to Palatino, dubbing it "Landen Loves Toy Drive" and is now soliciting donations in his memory.
"He's the reason I am doing it," she said.
She is again looking for donations to help brighten the day of those children fighting cancer. She'll be searching for children, reaching out to parents to find out what they'd want so there is a personalized touch, and putting the packages together. She said each one usually costs about $40 to $50.
"Some people are more willing to give me toys than cash and I understand that. Other people will just give me cash and I'll do that," Quinn said. "Shipping is going to be really expensive. Last year with the 60, it was like $900. I am assuming it is going to be double that. So I am also trying to raise funds for shipping and the care packages."
By late November, Quinn hopes to have a basement full of toys and other gifts, which she'll package up with help from a few friends. 
Her efforts haven't gone unnoticed. That journey from the first care package sent has led Quinn down a path of meeting numerous organizations and individuals with the same focus. 
"There are so many nice people I've come across and so many people I would have never met if I didn't do this. I'm thankful of that," Quinn said.
She's been to the Ronald McDonald House and hospitals in New York City meeting children. She attended CureFest in Washington D.C. and stood outside of the White House with other childhood cancer advocates. She'll be throwing a super hero themed party at the home of a child with cancer outside of Boston. 
She met author Ty Allan Jackson, who autographed and donated a ton of books for her to give out, and author Daniel Sadowski who will be holding a book signing and will donate one copy of his book Finding Brooklyn for every sale he has that day. Other charities are donating their goods for her to send out in the care packages.
Quinn went to a Walking Dead convention and met actor Scott Wilson, who plays Hershel Greene. She started telling him about Palatino and what she is doing and Wilson held up the line to praise her efforts. 
"It is crazy to have somebody you look up to tell you how much you mean to them. It is really eye opening," Quinn said.
She lost her friend "Super Landen" but he remains an inspiration for Quinn to become super herself by helping children who are fighting that battle.

Tags: cancer,   fundraiser,   

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Pittsfield Starbucks Closed Temporarily

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff

A sign outside the coffee shop assures customers the closure is only temporary. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Your alarm goes off, you get ready, and you leave for school, work, or whatever your appointment a little bit early to get a cup of coffee to start your day, only to find that the Pittsfield Starbucks, located at  555 Hubbard Ave., is closed. 
The sign has been removed, and the drive-through is blocked, but Starbucks coffee addicts need not worry — this closure is only temporary. 
The coffee shop closed its doors temporarily on July 7 to undergo a standard renovation with the chain's new Siren System, a Starbucks spokesperson said. 
According to the signage, the reopening date is projected to be Aug. 21. 
According to its website, the Siren System is part of the chain's Starbucks Reinvention plan, which aims to improve the experience for partners and staff by responding to changing needs and increasing demands. 
"As a standard course of business, we continually evaluate our store portfolio using various criteria to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers," the spokesperson said. 
The chain's article on unveiling its innovations said, "Over the past few years, the number of cold beverages ordered has surpassed the number of hot drinks year-round. And, two in three drinks ordered have requested customizations such as extra espresso shots and flavorings."
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