Community Comes Through to Help Amherst Survival Center Families

AMHERST — Last week, Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District, and Andy Haase of Cowls Building Supply delivered more than 400 games purchased by W.D. Cowls Inc. to the Amherst Survival Center, augmenting dozens of community donations already collected and delivered from North Amherst Motors, the Toy Box, North Square Apartments in the Mill District, and Cowls Building Supply.

“All December at Mill District seasonal events, we invited donations of puzzles and games for the Survival Center,” Rechtschaffen said. “W.D. Cowls agreed to match those donations, and then some. We’re so proud to be able to build community in people’s homes this winter, when it’s really difficult to be together in person.”

Last month, Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, outlined to Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, how the community could help her cause this winter. Ben-Ezra explained that the center was looking for ways to brighten the winter for families stuck at home, including craft kits, valentines, and other fun activities. Her hope for February was to distribute more than 400 games and puzzles to local families, and she asked the Mill District for help generating donations.

“This is going to be a long, challenging winter,” Ben-Ezra said. “We want to help offset the pending February doldrums with a little laughter and fun.”

Now, with more than 500 games donated in January, the Amherst Survival Center is providing families with games and activities along with groceries in February.

“The Survival Center — and the Mill District — are places where, in normal times, community is made and where people connect,” Jones said. “It’s been difficult connecting meaningfully this year during a global pandemic. We’re delighted Lev asked us to join her, inspiring unforgettable moments for families at home, while we can’t enjoy time together in North Amherst.”

Added Ben-Ezra, “we’re so grateful that the community has come through again for the Survival Center. We’re accomplishing so much this year for families in need, despite hard times and health challenges.”

Community members who want to help the Amherst Survival Center serve more families can donate online at amherstsurvival.org/donate. There’s even a gift catalog of direct-giving opportunities to meet specific needs.

“Contributing to the success of the Survival Center, you receive so much more than you give,” Jones said. “Your time and donations are amplified by regional support from farms and restaurants and grocery stores and hundreds of volunteers on the ground. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping Lev make a difference.”