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Nov 29, 2013

Friendly House Distributes Thanksgiving Dinner to 2,000 Families in Worcester

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Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis stands with volunteers  and officials from the Friendly House and the Worcester Sharks as  the Friendly House begins to distribute Thanksgiving meals to  2,000 area families.

(Sam Bonacci, MassLive.com)

The Friendly House will be hard at work preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 2,000 Worcester residents Thursday night.

“This is all for our families,” said Gordon Hargrove, executive director of the Friendly House, of the roughly 50,000 pounds of food that will be given out. “We want to make this a little bit brighter of a time of a Thanksgiving for people who otherwise would not have one.”

Over the course of the next three days, 2,000 families will cycle through the Friendly House to receive the complete makings of a Thanksgiving meal. This food not only means these families can have a holiday meal, but the money saved can mean the difference in a heating or electricity bill getting paid. It takes hundreds of volunteers to make it happen though, according to Hargrove.

Various local organizations have pitched in to make sure those served by the Friendly House can have a Thanksgiving, said Hargrove. Among them are the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, which has been involved for the last eight years.

“We’re all trying to make Worcester a better place,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, whose office hosted a food drive with the Worcester Sharks hockey league. “All the people around us and in this community understand we can’t do it alone, so we have to do it together.”

The partnership extends to the Worcester Sharks and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The meals will be distributed to families in Worcester with children who registered ahead of time. The families are all in the area that the Friendly House’s food bank, located in the Grafton Hill area, normally serves.

“I’ve learned one thing about Worcester: it is a special place. We aren’t too big to lose track of each other, but we aren’t too small to be in everyone’s business,” said Evangelidis. “We really are just the perfect size where we can make a difference.”

Nov 8, 2013

Sheriff, Sharks Launch Food Drive Nov. 9

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 To the left is Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and  Worcester Sharks Senior Director of Business and Community  Development Michael Myers are pictured with Worcester Sharks  mascot Finz as they announce the kickoff of the eighth annual  Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Food Drive, to begin Nov. 9.

 

 

WORCESTER — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis and  Worcester Sharks Senior Director of Community Development Michael Myers have announced that the Office of the Worcester County Sheriff and the Worcester Sharks have teamed up with Price Chopper for the eighth annual Worcester County Sheriff’s Food Drive, to be held when the Sharks host the Providence Bruins at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at the DCU Center.


All fans that donate a canned food item at the game will receive a free ticket voucher to a future Sharks game, compliments of Price Chopper. All collected food will go directly to Friendly House of Worcester to be distributed to needy families throughout the Worcester area in time for Thanksgiving. 

“The Worcester Sharks organization is thrilled to partner with Sheriff Evangelidis and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Friendly House, WPI Fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha and Price Chopper again this season for the eighth annual food drive,” said Mr. Myers. “It is important to do all we can to assist those who are less fortunate, especially as we get ready for the holiday season.” 

More than 50,000 pounds in donated food items were collected last season, feeding more than 2,000 local families in need for Thanksgiving. The Sharks and sheriff hope to surpass that goal this season. 

“Once again, I am looking forward to teaming up with the Worcester Sharks, WPI fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha, Price Chopper and the Friendly House for this year’s 8th Annual Food Drive,” Mr. Evangelidis said. “As the holiday season approaches especially during this difficult economic time, it is extremely important to do all we can to help those families in our community who may be less fortunate. The food drive has been an extremely successful annual event and we are determined to surpass our previous goals to provide those families who may be in need with a wonderful holiday meal.” 

In addition, nonperishable food items may also be dropped off from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 15 at the Worcester PriceChopper, 50 Cambridge St.

Nov 8, 2013

Driving Forces SHS Partners with Sheriff to Provide Coats this Winter

 

BY MARK ASHTON
NEWS STAFF WRITER

SOUTHBRIDGE — Baby, it’s cold outside. And getting colder.  But there’s some heartwarming
activity going on through the end of November to make things a little warmer in the Tri-Community area, even for the neediest among us. “The need is overwhelming this year(for winter wear),” says Kimberly Roy of Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis’ office. It’s in partnership with the Sheriff’s Department’s Annual Winter Coat Drive that students and staff at Southbridge Middle/High School (SMHS) have been collecting coats that soon will be added to the Sheriff’s cause.

The coats are scheduled to be distributed early next month at a few key locations in the Tri-Community area and throughout the county. The SMHS drive, going on for about a month, has been coordinated by the 30-member Student Council under the direction of Council Adviser Ricardo Carrero. With collection bins at all the school’s home football games this season and boxes also set up in the high school’s administration office, the students and staff had already collected, donated, and otherwise gathered about 80 coats as of earlier this week. New or “gently-used” coats may still be dropped off at the school offices, even as those already collected are headed for dry-cleaning at Twin City Cleaners, 147 West Main St., Dudley. “They give us a really good deal on the cleaning,” says Roy.

The Sheriff’s Coat Drive this year, in fact, is truly a collaborative effort, with Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, the New England Revolution soccer team, the Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Twin City Cleaners, and the Southbridge High School Student Council. All joining forces with the Sheriff’s office.

Last year, the Sheriff’s Winter Coat Drive “was a great success, providing more than 1,500 new and lightly used winter jackets to families in need throughout the greater Southbridge area and the region,” said Evangelidis “This year, we’re determined to surpass that goal,” he adds, hoping to give away as many as 2,000, according to Roy.

“As many families continue to struggle, especially during these tough economic times, it is extremely important to do all we can to help those who are less fortunate,” said the Sheriff. “Providing an adequate winter jacket can be of great help during the cold winter months.”

Members of the SHS Student Council aiding in the school’s collection drive include: Kenneth Allard, Julianys Alvarado, Cameron Boisvert, Rosa Brito, Mark Butler, Tesslyn Castro, Delaney Ducey, Makayla Estrada, Taylor Feraco, Jennifer Freshette, Megan Garlie, Ana Gonzalez, Brett Horr, Erin Jovan, Hannah Lazo, Taylor Loconto, Karina Martinez, Callie Mathieu, Sarai McNeill, Kaytlyn Mekal, Jomaris Molina, Gabriella Oliveras, Elyse Pena, Neydi Ramirez, Amaliah Torres, Karina Torres, Conrad Waack,  Rebekah Walker, and Miranda Watkins.

The coats are slated to be distributed locally on Thursday, Dec. 5. “We’ll be in the North County in the morning,” said Roy, “and in Southbridge probably about 1:30 p.m.” Local recipients of this year’s coats will include Tradewinds Club House on Main Street, the Center of Hope on Foster Street, and Catholic Charities at 79 Elm St.

Those wishing to contribute winter wear to the drive may still do so at the high school or directly at Twin City Cleaners in Dudley, Roy adds. The coat drive will continue through the end of November.

Those seeking information on how to receive a coat, or wanting to have one picked up, may call the Sheriff Department’s Civil Process Office (at 240 Main St., Worcester) at: 508-796-0344.

Nov 5, 2013

Drug-Sniffing Canine Stars in National Series

nikitaSutton High School student Caitlin Paul, 18, gets a kiss from

drug-sniffing dog Nikita during the filming of a PBS show called

“Shelter Me” at the high school.

 

(T&G Staff/TOM RETTIG)

 

By: Susan Spencer

Telegram & Gazette Staff

 

SUTTON — Hollywood came to Sutton High School Thursday and the star of the production, a rescued street dog from Puerto Rico, drew as much attention from students as any A-list celebrity.

Nikita, a 17-month-old terrier-Labrador mix who was adopted from Sterling Animal Shelter and trained to detect narcotics for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit, appeared unfazed by the film crew following him for an upcoming episode of the national PBS series “Shelter Me.”

He was just doing his job, demonstrating to a criminal justice class with his partner, Sgt. Thomas P. Chabot, how he sniffs out and pinpoints hidden drugs.

Two small packets of a heroin derivative, wrapped in coffee filters and folded to the size of a pack of gum, had been surreptitiously placed in one of the student’s backpacks by the sergeant. Nikita, a small bundle of energy, sniffed determinedly from pack to pack. When he found the scent, he promptly sat and touched his nose repeatedly to the drug’s location, in exchange for a treat from Sgt. Chabot.

Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis, who spoke to the class while the camera rolled, said beforehand: “What I love about him is he’s basically a deterrent. He’s a passive-alert dog. He’s not here to scare you, he’s basically here to sniff drugs on you.”

Nikita’s duties include scouring the county Jail and House of Correction’s mailroom and cellblocks for a wide range of drugs, from marijuana and heroin to prescription drugs such as painkillers that are likely to be abused.

His first day on the job, Nikita detected Suboxone, a prescription narcotic, that had been crushed and hidden on the glue of an envelope that came through the mailroom.

“This wonderful shelter pooch is doing so much work for you,” Sheriff Evangelidis, who has two shelter dogs of his own, told the class.

Award-winning film producer and director Steven Latham of Los Angeles, who oversaw the set in the high school classroom, said, “This story is what ‘Shelter Me’ is all about. When Nikita’s given a second chance, he’s got a job, he’s becoming a partner.”

He added, “What I love about this series is you can find these incredible dogs in the shelter; so what does it mean for my family? We’re trying to erase the stigma of shelter pets.”

According to the show’s website, “Shelter Me” is an inspiring series that celebrates shelter pets with positive and uplifting stories. The program tells stories about people’s lives being improved when they adopt a shelter pet.

Every year, 3 million to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in American shelters, the show information says.

“Shelter Me” is sponsored by Ellen DeGeneres’ pet-food company, Halo, Purely for Pets and by PetSafe.

Nikita’s partner, Sgt. Chabot, reinforced the show’s message of second chances: “He was a street dog in Puerto Rico,” he told the class. “Look at him now: He’s got a job in narcotics detection.”

Nikita spends all day at work with Sgt. Chabot and lives with his family in Ashburnham.

“He’s in the car with me everywhere I go. When I’m doing something, I have to think about him,” he said.

Nikita has benefited from human generosity all around. After he was rescued through the Save Our Satos program affiliated with Sterling Animal Shelter and donated to the sheriff’s office, he received free training for K-9 unit work from the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office. Holden Veterinary Clinic provides free medical care. Employees of a Lancaster business, D’Ambrosio Eye Care, raised more than $1,000 for a bulletproof vest for Nikita.

“They say it takes a village,” Sgt. Chabot said. “This is his village.”

Principal Theodore McCarthy immediately saw the educational benefits of bringing in the K-9 unit and the film crew. He said that the high school has offered a criminal justice class, taught by Michael Whittier, for 16 years. The program offered a way to link what students were learning in the classroom to real life.

“Opportunities like this open it up to kids,” Mr. McCarthy said. “It’s the kind of thing that needs to happen more in school. If you can bring in real-world tie-ins, it means more to the kids.”

The high school students, part of the media-immersed millennial generation, seemed more intrigued by Nikita than by the presence of the film crew that shadowed their class.

Junior Alexis Morris, 16, whose father is a Worcester police officer, said it was “funny” when Nikita detected the drugs in a backpack that had been placed near her feet.

“It was neat to see how well he reacted to it and how he put his nose to it,” she said.

Caitlin Paul, an 18-year-old senior, said, “For a couple of years, I’ve been thinking of being in a K-9 unit myself, so this solidified it.”

While the filmmaking aspect of Nikita’s visit seemed almost transparent, another area student, Rebecca Reese, a freshman from Dracut studying media communications at Anna Maria College, was on hand to learn life on the set.

Ms. Reese was hired as a production assistant for the three days that “Shelter Me” would be filmed in the region. She said she would be holding light reflectors, running errands or doing whatever needed to be done.

“I went to a technical high school and I’m used to shoots like this, but this is the first I’m doing on my own,” she said.

Nikita’s story will air next May in Episode 4 of “Shelter Me.”

The PBS crew also planned to film Nikita, Sgt. Chabot and others at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction in West Boylston, Sterling Animal Shelter, Community Corrections Center in Worcester, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office and at Sgt. Chabot’s home.

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