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Classes and individuals who participated in the annual pie auction had their desserts appraised by several judges who awarded first, second and third ribbons.
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Florida School's Pie Auction Raises $1,500 for Local Charities

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The benefit auction raises funds for the Berkshire Humane Society,  the local food pantry and the American Legion's Christmas dinner. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Gabriel Abbott Memorial School's 351 Project has raised just under $1,500 for charity. 
Students in the community service learning project held their annual Oh Be Thankful Pie Auction on Tuesday at the American Legion along with a chinese auction of donated gifts from local businesses and individuals and a 50/50 raffle. 
The pie auction included other goodies, such as award-winning peanut butter and chocolate balls  and a pumpkin roll, and goods were produced by teachers, staff, parents and classes at both the Florida school and Clarksburg School. 
Several judges selected their top three desserts and frequent among the winners were the fifth-grade's no-bake cookies, the kindergarten's apple pie, preK's mud pies, Clarksburg Grade 8's s'mores pie, and a pink lemonade pie from Clarksburg.  
Chris Howard, the school's physical education teacher (who won a couple ribbons for her pecan pie) was again the auctioneer and she urged the attendees to cough up more dough. 
Confections by Heidi Dugal, Florida's retired principal who started the event more than two decades ago, again got the top bid with her rasberry cheesecake going for $100 (down from $140 last year) and cream puffs for $60. Howard's pecan pie went for $75 and the no-bake cookies and peanut butter balls for $55 each. 
This reporter picked up a pineapple sour cream pie by Wendy Miller for a song at $20 and it was hit on Thanksgiving Day. 
Proceeds from this year's auction will again help the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry, the Berkshire Humane Society and the American Legion's Christmas dinner. 

Tags: auction,   benefit,   Gabriel Abbott School,   

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How can women bridge the retirement gap?

Submitted by Edward Jones

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.

Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:

  • Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
  • Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses. 
  • Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:

  • Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
  • Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
  • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.

It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.


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