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Mary Reilly prepares to deliver a meal to a recipient on Sunday afternoon.
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Residents start arriving promptly at noon to receive their meals.
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Members of the Lanesborough Volunteer Fire Department started cooking at 5:30 Sunday morning.
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In addition to a hot meal, residents received a bag with candy for dessert.

Lanesborough Fire Department Continues Senior Holiday Meal Tradition

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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P.J. Pannesco hands out meals to Lanesborough seniors.
LANESOBOROUGH, Mass. — The town's volunteer fire department has been filling bellies and raising spirits at the holidays for nearly 50 years.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed its plans to do the latter. There was no way the firefighters were going to stop doing the former.
 
Sunday at noon, area senior citizens began lining up for a drive-thru holiday meal at the Main Street station. It wasn't exactly the same as the annual community meal the department has hosted since 1974. But it was the best the volunteers could do under the circumstances.
 
"It was never a consideration that we weren't going to do it," firefighter P.J. Pannesco said as volunteers made final preparations to serve the meals. "When we realized that it was not going to be possible to put 75 people in a room like this — and we can do it because we have plenty of tables — we said, without a doubt, all the restaurants are doing drive-thru and curbside and so can we."
 
The Lanesborough Volunteer Fire Department went a step beyond curbside, welcoming residents to enter the station in the comfort of their own vehicles. Starting at noon, residents came during assigned blocks of time, entered through the back bay door, drove into the building, picked up their meals and drove out the front bay door before re-entering Main Street (Route 7) with help from Police Department personnel.
 
A handful of residents chose to have their meals delivered by firefighters.
 
In addition to roast beef, mashed potatoes, salad, a roll and butter and a bag of candies for dessert, residents received information about fire safety and an oven mitt in a reusable tote bag.
 
What they could not receive was the pre-meal happy hour in the engine bay, the festive music or the fellowship in the station's community room, converted Sunday into a staging area for packaging the meals that firefighters started cooking at 5:30 a.m.
 
"We'd put up three rows of tables, and they'd be in here elbow to elbow, but they love that part of it," Pannesco said. "It was the get-together that was happening.
 
"Thank God, for none of these people, if they don't have this meal, they're not going to eat. Every one of them, I think, thank God, is in a position where they're not going hungry. It's the socialization more than anything else. It's a fun thing.
 
"We knew we couldn't do that."
 

Tags: Christmas story,   

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Reid Civics Class Holds Virtual Town Hall With Senator Hinds

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Reid Middle School students got a chance to quiz their state senator on Tuesday to kick off a student-led civics project.
 
The eighth-grade class prepared the questions for state Sen. Adam Hinds that were then vetted and chosen by the student civics leaders who represent each civics class.
 
Questions ranged from hates crime legislation, the First Amendment, the vaccination rollout, and getting back to a "new normal."
 
Principal Michael Henault said it was the changes made in 2018 to the state's history and social science curriculum framework that led to the virtual town hall with the senator. The core priority of the curriculum change was emphasizing and expanding civics education and supporting eighth-graders in a student-led civics project.
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