The Recorder – Rotary, Kiwanis clubs donate $20K to nonprofits through Festival of Trees proceeds

GREENFIELD — Through the success of November and December’s Festival of Trees, the Franklin County Rotary and Greenfield Kiwanis clubs have awarded more than $20,000 to local nonprofits.

Following a pandemic-induced hiatus, the event was revived last year at its new location of Aromatic Fillers in South Deerfield, and continued its tradition of donating proceeds to area nonprofits. This year, grants went to The Literacy Project, Artspace Community Arts Center, the Salasin Project, the Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Program, the Greenfield Salvation Army, the Franklin County Fairgrounds, the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT), the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and the North Quabbin, Stone Soup Café and Sacred Holistic Arts.

For Stone Soup Café based at All Souls Church, the $2,500 awarded to the organization will go toward the Pack It Up Program, which ensures that all meals given away are individually packaged. Executive Chef and Director Kirsten Levitt said between the cutlery, the paper bag, soup carrier and meal containers, each lunch costs about $1.25 to pack, which adds up quickly as the pay-what-you-can café is on track to deliver more than 26,000 meals this year.

“It’s beyond extremely helpful,” Levitt said of the grant. “That $2,500 is going to allow us to pack 2,000 meals — that’s about 8% of the meals we expect to give out.”

Levitt said she and the rest of the café’s volunteers have “extreme gratitude” for the Rotary Club’s award.

“The Franklin County Rotary has been very generous,” she said. “They did a fantastic job in supporting our community. … Not enough people know about the Rotary and the good work they do.”

The Greenfield Salvation Army was awarded $2,500 to continue the expansion of its Sally’s Market project, which is a redesign of its food pantry at its 72 Chapman St. location.

“We’re going to be able to purchase and install retail shelves,” explained Lt. Paul Leslie. “It’ll allow us to maximize the amount of shelving space we have and make it a little bit more of an efficient project, and give us a little more space for a variety of food to be available.”

Sally’s Market, Leslie said, is a rebranding of the Salvation Army’s food pantry that began a year and a half ago. The pantry has operated there for more than 70 years.

Leslie said the grant is “definitely beneficial” because the Salvation Army would have to “eliminate” some aspects of the work without it.

The Literacy Project based in Greenfield received $2,000 for its computer scholarship program, which Executive Director Judith Roberts said will help provide laptops to the organization’s adult high school equivalency students. The nonprofit has classrooms in Greenfield, Orange, Amherst, Northampton and Ware.

“With these laptops, more students will be able to join The Literacy Project’s online classes, complete their homework, stay connected with the community, apply for a driver’s license, even visit their medical professionals,” Roberts said. “Computers are essential in the home, and this generous grant will provide laptops for The Literacy Project’s hardworking and courageous adult students in Franklin County.”

Sacred Holistic Arts, a Greenfield-based nonprofit that provides access to pottery, received $2,000 for its Pottery For The People program, which will expand the organization’s footprint into the community to expose more people to ceramics.

Pottery, said Executive Director Michelle Bryan, “is not for poor people, it’s for people who have money in it,” which she is trying to change with Sacred Holistic Arts.

“Classes are super expensive everywhere you go,” Bryan said. “It shouldn’t be so expensive to get your hands dirty. … It’s heartbreaking to know you love to do something and not be able to do it.”

She said the grant money will go toward new equipment, which will help bring more opportunities to the public.

“I feel very honored and very blessed because it allows us to be able to do what we love to help our community,” Bryan said. “Art is the essence of life for me and being able to share that with other people, it’s great.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.