We're in our second week of '10 Towns in 10 Days' as we visit local communities and learn about what makes each town special.. the people, the culture and the businesses.
And while we're there, we're giving back, donating to a charity in the town.
Today... our stop was Monson.
"We are a pretty tight community, everyone knows each other. It's great, its a good little place," explains Monson Town Manager, Evan Brassard.
That's even more true after June 1, 2011 - the day an EF-3 tornado tore thru town.
"Especially after the tornado, everyone kinda came together. I think you got a lot of relationships and friendships then you normally would have. Those have continued to this day," Brassard notes.
The church steeple that fell that day has been fixed. Destruction and initial chaos in the moments after has been replaced by the calming movement of cars along Main Street. One project coming to a finish is Memorial Hall renovations.
"This building was damaged by the tornado. We now have a brand new stage with brand new curtains. We are redoing the entire heating system now for the upcoming winter. People love it... they can't get over that we have such a resource here in Monson," Brassard tells Western Mass News.
On the northwest side of town, Silver Bell Farms is a fairly new addition to Monson landscape.
"I put a lot of effort into building a farm. It took years to grow the Christmas trees, we've been planting them for 10 years. When they finally started coming, it was time to get a shop built and open up," Michael Moore with Silver Bell Farms says.
Moore has done just that.
"I have two kids of my own - Thomas and Henry - they're 5 and 7 now but when I started building it, they were a few years younger. I kinda built it for families like us. Where I knew they would have a good time to come and just hang out," he tells us.
There is something for everyone here - pumpkin patches in the fall, Christmas trees in the winter. Inside, there is a cafe with baked goods and a room just for Santa.
"We are excited about Christmas season this year. We have Santa every day on the weekends and sometimes during the week where we'll have private time - private story time with Santa. Horse drawn wagon rides on the weekends. All the play areas, as long as the weather permits, will be open for the kids to hang out."
Despite all the efforts, there are still those in Monson in need. Over the last 30 years, Monson Open Pantry has opened its doors to help.
"Monson Open Pantry is an ecumenical charity sponsored by the major churches here in town and all the people who live here in town," says Candace Erickson, Monson Open Pantry.
Up to 4 dozen clients need the pantry's assistance on a monthly basis.
"There are a number of organizations that have done food drives for us. Sometimes, the school children will do a drive on their own for us. We are so very very fortunate in Monson that the people in town support us tremendously," Candace explains.
Western Mass News wanted to do our part, so we presented Monson Open Pantry with a check for $500 to help out all the families in Monson. Courtesy of Western Mass News, Diamond RV and Big Y.
"Well that is just wonderful," Candace adds, "Thank you very much... that's just great."
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