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Goshen Food Pantry benefit close to reaching goal

World War II veteran David Gifford plays a piano piece by Chopin at his home  in Williamsburg. Gifford was among several entertainers who took part in the last month's Fuller's Follies in Cummington, which raised funds for the Goshen Food Pantry.
LAURA RODLEY

World War II veteran David Gifford plays a piano piece by Chopin at his home in Williamsburg. Gifford was among several entertainers who took part in the last month's Fuller's Follies in Cummington, which raised funds for the Goshen Food Pantry. LAURA RODLEY Purchase photo reprints »

Williamsburg resident David Gifford began studying music at age 12 when he started attending the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, placing third against students the same age from the greater Boston area during a day-long competition at the New England Conservatory.

“I got hooked on organs when I was about 15,” he said. “I learned to play them at Longy.”

He earned his diploma in 1942, joining the U.S. Army shortly after. “We got involved in the war. I knew I would have to go into the Army,” he said.

His musical talents sustained him during World War II, when he served in a military police unit, and later at work and at home.

Gifford, 91, was one of several musicians who brought their talents to last month’s Fuller’s Follies in Cummington, playing the piano at the annual fundraiser benefiting the Goshen Food Pantry.

Gifford practices nearly every day on the piano — his fingers still fly over the keys — in the community room at Nash Hill Place, the apartment complex where he has lived for the last three years. “I was involved in playing as church musician almost all my life until just a little while ago.” he said.

His 90th birthday was celebrated last year during the Follies, a showcase of local talent held each year at Cummington’s Village Congregational Church.

This year’s show was attended by almost 100 people, so many that organizers ran out of programs and had to go to the office to print more. Cheshire resident Christina Briggs, 13, played “The Sound of Music” on the flute, her first time playing in front of a crowd, according to event organizer Hattie Fuller.

As of this week, Fuller said $150 is still needed to reach the $1,000 fundraising goal for the food pantry, which serves Cummington, Plainfield, Worthington, Haydenville, Westhampton, Goshen, Williamsburg, Chesterfield and Dalton. Checks can be made out to the Village Congregational Church, with “Hilltown Food Pantry” written in the memo and sent to Scott Keith at 44 Main St., Cummington, MA 01026.

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Prepare to glide

The Berkshire Trails Nordic Ski Club will hold its annual cross-country ski and clothing fundraising sale at Notchview Reservation, owned by The Trustees of Reservations, on Route 9 in Windsor on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. A 15 percent commission will be charged to benefit the popular Berkshire Trails Bill Koch Youth Ski League for children ages 5 to 13 that resumes with the snow at Notchview.

Anyone may consign cross-country skis, boots, racing and touring poles, winter sports equipment and clothing for both adults and children. Children’s ski equipment and high-school-age Nordic racing equipment are in particular demand. Item drop-off at Notchview Reservation is Friday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Items brought in 9 to 10 a.m. the morning of sale will be charged a 25 percent commission fee. Unsold items must be picked up by 12:30 p.m. that day. For alternate drop-off locations, contact organizer Peter Rayton at 586-9350 or email pmrayton@crocker.com.

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PTO fundraiser

While Cummington escaped major damage during superstorm Sandy, the Community Outdoor Play Space on Main Street, shared by residents and Berkshire Trail Elementary School, still shows damage from flooding during Tropical Storm Irene. Sponsored by the Berkshire Trail Parent Teacher Organization, a pasta dinner to benefit the space takes place Saturday at the school, located on 2 Main St. Seatings at 5 and 6:30 p.m. are hosted by Berkshire-based Ooma Tesoro’s and Haydenville’s Bread Euphoria. Tickets, which will be available at the door, are $10 for adults, $6 for children and seniors. For information, call 634-5327.

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Honoring veterans

Greenfield native Master Sgt. Gregory R. Pauli, who is a member of the 104th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, with the 439th Civil Engineer Squadron out of Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, will speak about EOD and his deployment experiences as guest speaker at the Worthington Council on Aging potluck. All of the town’s veterans have been invited to the event, which will honor their service. The event starts at noon on Monday at Town Hall, 160 Huntington Road in Worthington. Pauli’s talk begins at 12:40 p.m.

Laura Rodley can be reached at lrodley.gazette@gmail.com

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