Tisbury, Oak Bluffs students support Japan relief

Fourth-graders in Pam Herman’s class at the Tisbury School presented a check for $4,730 to the Red Cross in support of relief efforts in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. For several weeks, students ran an event called Jump for Japan, in which they talked family and friends into donating as much as one dollar for every jump they made.

At the presentation, Jim Thomas, the Red Cross zone leader for Martha’s Vineyard said, “It’s impressive what these children did. They already feel that they belong to a larger world community. It’s inspiring and very promising.”

In Oak Bluffs, meanwhile, students raised money by voting, with dollars, for teachers who had dared to do something silly, even outrageous. One particularly voluble teacher offered to not talk for a day. Another offered to have his head shaved. Then there was the principal, Carlin Hart, who said that he would kiss a pig. Guess who won.

Yup, a pig was duly borrowed for the day from The FARM Institute, and in front of the entire school at Friday assembly, Mr. Hart puckered up and delivered. The pig, which had been nervous at first, calmed right down after the smooch from the big guy. The Red Cross received $400 from the event.

Dorothy Packer wins volunteer award

Every Monday for nearly 15 years, Dorothy Packer of Vineyard Haven has driven Route #2 for the Meals on Wheels on the Island. This year she was chosen as Volunteer of the Year by Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands. Known for her enthusiasm and willingness, Ms. Packer is also admired for her dedication to service. With a noticeably calm demeanor, she is especially appreciated by meal recipients for the respect, concern, and friendship she extends to them.

For her honor, she will receive a citation from State Senator Dan Wolf, along with a certificate of appreciation and a gift from Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands.

Intellectual disabilities grant

The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation is accepting inquiries for its 2011 Intellectual Disabilities grant cycle. Organizations located in Barnstable, Nantucket, Dukes, or Essex Counties in Massachusetts serving children, adolescents, and young adults to age 26 with intellectual disabilities that address one or more of the Foundation’s funding priorities may be eligible for funds. The deadline for inquiries is June 8, 2011. Visit their website at for more information.

Patagonia pitches in for the red knot

The Global Conservation Alliance (GCA), co-founded by Lanny McDowell of West Tisbury, has received a grant from Patagonia, the outdoor gear and clothing company, to further its efforts to protect the red knot, a delicate shore bird whose numbers have collapsed in recent years.

During their spring migration from the tip of South America to breeding grounds in the Arctic, the birds stop off around Delaware Bay where they feed almost exclusively on horseshoe crab eggs. The supply of eggs has dropped drastically in the last 20 years, as horseshoe crabs have been increasingly targeted by fishermen who use them to bait eel and conch traps. They are also used by the pharamceutical industry which uses their blood for product testing.

The name that GCA has chosen for their effort to protect the shorebirds’ food supply — the Red Knot Survival Project — indicates the precariousness of the species’ existence. Since 2008, GCA has participated in research projects along the shores of Delaware Bay, counting and analyzing horseshoe crab eggs on the one hand and experimenting with alternative food supplies on the other. Coincidentally, a survey of horseshoe crabs is also being conducted on the Island, part of the state’s monitoring program, which in turn is required by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s management plan for horseshoe crabs.

Food Pantry keeps on giving

A check for $6,732 was recently presented to Armen Hanjian, coordinator of the Island Food Pantry, by Sam Koohy, manager of the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop, and his counterpart at the Edgartown supermarket, David Gauvain. The money was the total raised at the two markets during a fundraising effort last November.

In the Food Pantry’s annual season report, Mr. Hanjian noted that the pantry spent $20,205 more on food than they had the year before, while income had stayed level. Donations are welcome all year-long.

The Food Pantry will re-open in mid-October. In the meantime, people with food emergencies can call 508-693-4764 for help.

Unitarians continue food collection Even though the Island Food Pantry is closed until fall, the Unitarian church’s Friends of the Island Food Pantry will continue to collect food over the summer on behalf of Serving Hands Food Distribution, which provides food assistance out of the Baptist Church Parish Hall in Vineyard Haven. Food distributions take place once a month all year-long. The Unitarian group will temporarily change its identification to M.V. Summer Food Bank for its supermarket canvassing over the summer. For more information, contact Betty Burton at 508-693-5339 or