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Grades 5 through 8 at Gabriel Abbott Memorial School plan the Project 351 event but the entire school has a chance to participate by donating desserts.
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Abbott School Dessert Auction Raises Funds for Charity

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The pie auction began to include more different desserts a few years ago. This year, there seemed to be more cakes and cookies than pies. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Cakes, cookies, bars and, of course, pies were scooped in spirited bidding on Tuesday at the American Legion hall. 
The annual Oh Be Thankful Pie & Dessert Auction hosted by Gabriel Abbot Memorial School is an annual event that benefits local charities and has become a tradition for many to bring home a dessert for Thanksgiving.
"I think it's wonderful because we have a school of 90 students they run a three-week food drive," said Principal Hiedi Dugal. "Last year, we raised over 1,200 pounds of food and we raised $1,400 in one night." 
Two of each donated dessert is provided: one for sampling and one to be auctioned. Each grade at the town of Florida school provides a dessert and others came from faculty, members of the school community and from Clarksburg School. 
Auctioneer Harry LaGess, who's been auctioning off the desserts for more than a dozen years, swiftly bid up the confectionaries and encouraged a few bidding wars — one between two people sitting next to each other.  
One of the biggest bids prices was $70 for a clay pot filled with gummy worms, chocolate cake and whipped cream. Little was left of the sample as Abbott fifth-grader Emerson Lane scraped pudding from"  the bottom. 
"We had to make the flowers," she said, pointing to the colorful tissue blooms sticking out of the flower pot. Did the dessert taste good? "Yes," she said, nodding her head enthusiastically.
Dugal's baked goods tend to bring high prices, with her chocolate mousse and cupcakes bringing in more than $60.
Margo van Peterson of Florida was determined to get a chocolate and raspberry ganache cake, beating out several other bidders to win it at $60. She also picked up a pie. 
"I wanted to contribute to the cause and there wasn't too much left," she smiled. "I came in late. ... I think I spent more than $100."
There was also a chinese auction with donated products and gift cards. 
Half of the proceeds will go to the Berkshire Humane Society and half to the Al Nelson Friendship Center food pantry. The collected food items will also be split, with any pet food going to BHS and human food the pantry. Two hundred dollars will be set aside to be donated to the American Legion for its annual Christmas dinner. 
"I've been doing this for 15 years, for the last eight it's been Project 351 and I just love Project 351," Dugal said. "I've been education 30 years and I can say 10 years ago, it brought me back to life again. ... The students love it."
Project 351 is a statewide service learning program developed under the Patrick administration that unites eighth-grade service "ambassadors" from every city and town in the commonwealth for an inspirational year of community service. 
Dugal said Abbott School enlists all the students from fifth grade to eighth grade into the program. The dessert auction and food drive is the major program but the students also run a clothing drive in the spring.  
"We start in September and we meet every Monday. The students have been prepping for this right through the spring," she said. "It's a lot of fun. 

Tags: auction,   benefit,   community service,   Gabriel Abbott School,   holiday story,   

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Massachusetts to Begin Phase 2 Reopenings on Monday

Staff Reports

Gov. Charlie Baker announces that Phase 2 reopenings will begin Monday based on positive trends in containment of the pandemic.
BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker gave the all-clear on Saturday to begin Phase 2 of reopening the Massachusetts economy on Monday as COVID-19 numbers continue to decline.
He might take his wife out to dinner, he said, but he was finally able to visit his father, who is in a long-term care facility. "He needs a haircut but other than that he's fine," Baker said.
But he cautioned that the state is not out of the woods yet and that residents and businesses should keep up with containment protocols.  
"We're asking people to follow new safety protocols to rethink the way they interact with customers to stagger work schedules and to work remotely," he said. "And so far, we're enormously grateful for everyone's support and creativity and adjusting their operations. This is on top of our requests for people to keep their distance where face coverings. And do without several forms of gatherings and socializing. ...
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