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Editorial: High Notes

Monday, September 1, 2014
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High Notes is a weekly feature of The Gazette Opinion page designed to spotlight and promote the good work being done by individuals and groups in our community. We hope their efforts will inspire others. If you'd like to submit a suggestion for High Notes, send an email to Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney at mmahoney@dailygazette.net.

In Rotterdam, more than 120 motorcycle enthusiasts helped raise hundreds of dollars for the Jimmy Fund, a cancer research charity in Boston, by riding nearly 100 miles and holding a raffle and other fund-raising events on Aug. 24. The sixth annual Akins's Angels Motorcycle Ride is named in honor of a Duanesburg woman who died of breast cancer in 2013. Before she died, Beverley Akin asked that money raised from the annual motorcycle rally and festival be donated to cancer research, instead of to herself. The Jimmy Fund collects money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, which provides adult and pediatric cancer care and conducts cancer research. The website is www.jimmyfund.org.

In Scotia, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Scotia completed a Harvest for the Hungry “One Ton Food Challenge” to collect food for local food pantries. The church as supported the Scotia-Glenville and Schenectady Inner-City Ministries food pantries and has participated in the CROP Walk to raise money to help stamp out hunger. This year, the church challenged supporters to collect one ton of canned foods and personal items by filling collection bins at the church. The Schenectady Inner-City Ministries food pantry serves between 80 and 100 families each week. The one-ton challenge is modeled after the efforts of a small parish in West Virginia. The church will raise more money for local food pantries on Sept. 14 during its annual German Fest.

In Schenectady, teachers at Hamilton Hill Elementary School got a head start with the new crop of kindergartners by offering them a chance to come into the classrooms during August and become acclimated to the school, thereby helping diffuse some of the trauma of the first day of school. Many of the children had never been in a school setting before, so they were able to get a little taste of what their life is going to be like before they're tossed in with the entire school population. The orientation, held over four half-days, also allowed teachers, support staff and reading specialists to get a jump on learning about the kids, thereby saving valuable time during the school year that's normally spent on assessments, leaving more for teaching.

In Fort Hunter, former Bronx school teacher Michael Bitz held a comic book workshop at the Schoharie Crossing Visitors Center for local kids as part of his non-profit Comic Book Project. The project, which he founded in 2001, is designed to use comic books to encourage children to read and draw. At the local workshop, kids learned to create their own comic story lines from simple line drawings, putting their imagination on paper in an educational and engaging way. Kids learn not only to draw, but to formulate their own stories, developing plot lines and characters.

In Saratoga Springs, a new non-profit partnership is working on a new model to help create more affordable housing in the city. The Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren & Washington Counties, along with the Rebuilding Together Saratoga County and the Saratoga Builders Association are working together on the project. The homes, a duplex and a single-family home, will be sold to three low-income families in a lease-to-buy basis.

 
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