The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of December 3 to December 10, 2020

Local Furniture Manufacturer Donates Much-Needed Supplies to Monty Tech

Monty Tech students wearing donated PPE
Left to right: Cecelia Lane, Abbie Law, Xavier Ramos, Alexa Ofosuhene, and Sheila Harrity, Superintendent-Director of Monty Tech.

FITCHBURG - 2020 has been a challenge for all, and yet through these difficult times, we have seen our friends and neighbors come together to help one another, and businesses provide what they can to those in need. So when the United Way of North Central Massachusetts and philanthropic partner AIS, a Leominster-based furniture manufacturer, contacted Monty Tech's School Superintendent, it was only further confirmation that North Central Massachusetts does what is best for our students.

AIS launched its Sew the Masks campaign, calling on their sewing professionals to create high-quality masks using AIS-sourced materials. These masks would go on to be donated across the country, to ensure everyone who needs access to personal protective equipment has it.

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District educates approximately 1,400 students and employs just over 200 professionals. To be sure that every person in the school had an all-important mask, AIS recently donated 1,700 masks, which were distributed across the building on Wednesday, November 25th, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. "Having businesses like AIS reach out to ask how they can help – we just couldn't be more grateful. This is the perfect time of year to reflect on all that we have and to be thankful for partnerships that help keep Monty Tech moving forward," said Superintendent-Director Dr. Sheila Harrity. "We understand AIS has donated masks to area schools, all Massachusetts poll workers, and of course health care workers and first responders. I hear they were also recently recognized with the 2020 Corporate Hero award, in recognition of these efforts. They are truly deserving of this honor."

When students return to the Monty Tech campus on Monday, November 30th, they will be given a mask, and reminded to maintain safety and health precautions. School officials at Monty Tech have worked diligently to ensure the students are able to benefit from face-to-face instruction, which is only possible if everyone continues to exercise caution, washing hands and wearing masks, an effort made easier by AIS.

Sizer Elves to Help Students and Families This Holiday Season
Community Supporters boost Sizer Services

Sizer Elves helping students and families
In photo, (l-r), two of Sizer's own happy elves Jenna Lavery Quigley, Sizer School Adjustment Counselor and Lyndsie Currallo High School Counselor.

Sometimes a holiday wish is more than a new bike or a cell phone upgrade. Sometimes a holiday wish can be food on the table, or a jacket that fits.

At Sizer School, a North Central Charter Essential School, the Sizer Elves is a longstanding tradition that has evolved over the years in response to both the needs within the Sizer community and the generosity of Sizer's many outside supporters.

"Last year, we were able to sponsor gifts for over 50 students and siblings," said Jenna Lavery Quigley, Sizer School Food Pantry representative and Sizer Elves Coordinator. "We try to help as many families as we can."

Sizer School serves as many as 400 students a year from 25 local communities including Ashburnham, Westminster, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Lunenburg, Bolton, Stow, Lancaster, Pepperell, Ashby, Townsend, Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland and Sterling. Based on its mission to know each student personally, Sizer also works hard to fill the needs of each student not only in the classroom, but also at home.

"A student isn't going to come up to you and say, 'I don't have a winter coat because my family can't afford it' or 'I can't wait for lunch because we didn't have enough food for dinner last night.' What you see instead is a brave face who 'isn't bothered by the cold' or 'doesn't like coats' or you see a student pocketing his or her daily snack for later," said Communication & Recruitment Coordinator Lindsay Sauvageau. "This is why we have a food pantry and programs like the Sizer Elves. Because a student that is focused on trying to meet basic personal needs is not always capable of focusing on academic needs. So as a school, we want to support both."

A list of Sizer School families in need is created throughout the year by referral and through sign ups. Their needs are then transferred to the Sizer Elves. Anyone wishing to participate as an Elf purchases what they can for these students and/or families. All family and student information is kept strictly confidential and not given out to the community.

"If community members would like to participate as donors, they can contact me directly," said Quigley. "If Sizer families want to sign up to receive a gift, they should email/call us directly also."

To participate in the Sizer Elves program or to make a donation to the program contact Jenna Lavery Quigley,; (978) 728-3754. All gifts must be turned in by December 18th to allow for remote distribution.