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Community Schools helps provide food, warmth

Community Schools’ staff were busy helping to ensure a Happy Thanksgiving and warmer winter for families by coordinating turkey and coat giveaways through the generosity of the community.

Community Schools’ family advocate Lorraine Boughton and Parent Empowerment Center (PEC) managers Julie Maserjian and Maria Brown have been busy calling on area businesses and groups to seek Thanksgiving turkeys and fixings.

On Friday, the group gave out approximately 60 turkeys to families at the PEC inside Poughkeepsie Middle School, 55 College Ave. Members of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project joined them to do a cooking demonstration on how to prepare a side dish and PFD members were there to help hand out turkeys and fresh vegetables.

The turkey giveaway was made possible through donations from: Mayor Rob Rolison, Senator Sen. Sue Serino, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Jasmine Clay with Saving Our Tomorrow, Positive About Possibilities, Ashley Furniture, IAFF Local 596 President Nick Bucher and Vice President Brian Ineson, Poughkeepsie Fire Department, Debra Long, Lydia and William Biskup and Akbars Restaurant, Tops, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Sam's Club, and Price Chopper.

Unsupported image type.“It’s our community coming together to make it a Happy Thanksgiving for our families,” Maserjian said, smiling, as she added that Ashley Furniture even offered to give mattresses to families in need. In a related, but separate giveaway, Community Schools is working with the Knights of Columbus to provide hot Thanksgiving meals to families.




Gift of warmth

This year marks the first year Community Schools has partnered with Dutchess Outreach to provide coats to district families, Executive Director of Community Schools Natasha Cherry said. The district has done coat drives before, but this year will be a little different.

Each school principal identified 10 families to receive coats - not just for the children, but for the parents as well.

“Because of Dutchess Outreach, we were able to have more coats,” Cherry said.

Boughton said families were ecstatic that everyone - including the parents - would get a coat.

Maserjian and Boughton picked up the coats two weeks ago, but weren’t satisfied with just providing coats. So, they decided to provide a selection of gloves, hats and mittens for people to choose from - hung on a clothesline and arranged on tables - during Saturday, Nov. 19th’s “Cocoa and Coats” event at the PEC.

Those interested in donating hats, mittens or gloves for Mitten Trees that will be created at each school for use throughout the winter, email Maserjian at