COVID-19 community updates

Published: 5/4/2020 6:59:52 PM
Tri-County Fair hosts drive thru food drive

The Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden Agricultural Society, the nonprofit organization that manages the oldest continuously operated agricultural fair in the country, will be conducting a Drive Thru Food Drive Saurday at the Three County Fair Arena in Northampton.

The Fair is seeking non-perishable foods such as canned fruit, soup, tuna, and vegetables, plus cereal, pasta, pasta sauce and peanut butter for area food pantries in each of the three counties that the Fair represents including the Easthampton Community Center, Greenfield’s Salvation Army Food Pantry and Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry in Chicopee.

Donations can be dropped off at the fair’s arena, 54 Old Ferry Road in Northampton, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Each vehicle that donates will be provided with a complimentary ticket to the 2020 Three County Fair, scheduled for Sept. 4 to 7. The Fair requests that donations be compiled in disposable bags or boxes for volunteers to easily accept them from vehicles.

Internet access help from Comcast

Comcast is extending its comprehensive COVID-19 response policies to June 30. Commitments extended into the summer include:

No disconnects and waiving late fees — they will not disconnect a customer’s Xfinity Internet, mobile, or voice service, and will waive late fees if customers make contact notifying the company that they can’t pay their bills during this period.

Xfinity Wi-Fi free for everyone — Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots in business and outdoor locations across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free, including non-Xfinity internet subscribers.

Pausing data plan — With so many people working and educating from home, customers may access the internet without thinking about data plans. All customers have unlimited data at no additional charge.

Internet essentials — the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, offering 60 days of complimentary service for new customers through June 30. The program is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95 month. For more information, visit

Credit Union fights pandemic

Freedom Credit Union has made donations of $55,000 to be dispersed among several community organizations that are at the frontlines of the local fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local organizations receiving funds include Baystate Health Foundation, Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Hampshire Hospitality Group, whose Hampshire County Heroes feed the first responders in Hampshire County, Feed the Fight, an initiative of Peter Pan Bus Lines and area restaurants to feed health care workers and first responders in the community.

FCU will continue to assist the community throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to these community donations, resources are available to its individual members, including online banking services and the new Freedom Relief Loan, providing up to $10,000 to members dealing with consequences of the pandemic, including layoffs, furloughs or bills.

YMCA offering free wellness resources

The Hampshire Regional YMCA is committed to keeping the Greater Northampton community healthy by offering numerous opportunities to engage in active pursuits while staying safe at home.

Working with Northampton Open Media, the Y is making adult fitness classes available through local cable access television, part of a recent effort to make more resources available to the general public. Pre-recorded classes taught by YMCA certified group exercise instructors will be aired on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Northampton Open Media airs locally in Northampton on Comcast channels 12, 15 and 23. For a detailed schedule of programming, including class formats offered in each time slot, visit

The Y is also collaborating with the Northampton Senior Center to make online group exercise classes available to homebound seniors. Currently, senior center members can take virtual classes from Y instructors through their platform. If you have questions about accessing these classes, call the Northampton Senior Center at 413-587-1228, ext. 5.

Additional wellness programming is available from the Y, including free exercise videos, cooking and craft demonstrations, youth science experiments and bedtime stories, offered through the Y’s website and social media outlets. New content is added each week for all ages and abilities.

For more information about all online programming, visit, and follow the Y on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Belchertown kindergartenregistration update

If you are a resident of Belchertown and have a child who will be 5 years of age on or before Sept. 1, 2020, please visit the Cold Spring School website, and follow the link for Kindergarten Pre-Registration Survey Monkey. This survey will not take the place of official registration forms; however, it provides pertinent preliminary information.

Kindergarten registration packets may either be downloaded from the Cold Spring School website or mailed to you per preference indicated on the Survey Monkey.

In addition to the required registration packet, you will be asked to provide: a copy of your child’s birth certificate, immunization records (including lead screening results), and current physical (within one year). You will also need to provide two proofs of Belchertown residency: one in the form of a mortgage statement or rental/lease agreement and the second proof in the form of a utility bill (heating, electricity or phone) at the address listed on the registration form.

Completed registration forms may be deposited in a dropbox provided at the Cold Spring School front entrance beginning May 11 for your convenience. Envelopes will be provided for your confidential registration materials. It will not be necessary to identify your child’s name on the outer envelope.

Response fund grants half million in new round

Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has announced a new round of grants totaling $500,000, targeting nonprofits that are providing front-line responses to those needing shelter, food resources, serving survivors of domestic abuse and those needing personal protective equipment.

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund provided $500,000 to Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to support the Foundation’s response to the pandemic crisis in our region. The fund was announced in early April by Gov. Charlie Baker and first lady Lauren Baker, and was conceived by Lauren Baker and the One8 Foundation as a way to respond to the crisis statewide, focused on providing supports to vulnerable populations and essential workers.

The funding is being used by the Community Foundation for its fifth round of grantmaking, this time targeting 26 western Massachusetts nonprofits that are doing work in providing meals and food, assistance to survivors of domestic abuse, and emergency shelter. Local recipients of the new grants are:

■Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke (meals and food)

■Center for New Americans, Northampton (basic needs assistance, utility and housing stability)

■ Community Action, Greenfield (diapers and basic needs)

■ Community Health Center of Franklin County, Greenfield (COVID testing)

■ Craig’s Doors, Amherst (emergency shelter)

■ Enlace de Familias, Holyoke (food, personal care, basic needs)

■ Grow Food Northampton (food distribution)

■ Highland-Valley Elder Services, Florence (PPE)

■ Hilltown Community Health Centers, Worthington (basic needs, medical supplies)

■ Holyoke Health Center (medical services)

■ LifePath, Greenfield (meals and food)

■ New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, Greenfield (assistance to survivors of domestic violence)

■ Northampton Survival Center (food distribution)

■ Providence Ministries for the Needy, Holyoke (meals and food)

■ Safe Passage, Northampton (assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence)

■ ServiceNet, Northampton (emergency shelter)

■ Survival Centers, Amherst Survival Center (meals and food)

■ WestMass ElderCare, Holyoke (meals and food)

■ Womanshelter Companeras, Holyoke (domestic violence intervention, sheltering)

With this newest round of grants, the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley has invested $1.8 million in grants to nonprofits in western Massachusetts that are on the front lines of serving vulnerable populations affected by the crisis.

The Response Fund was established to provide emergency grants to community nonprofit organizations serving the immediate needs of the most vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic in Western Massachusetts.

Since its inception, the Response Fund has raised $4.2 million from 25 businesses and foundations, nearly 400 individuals and families and the statewide Relief Fund.


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