Churches offer 'ashes to go' on Ash Wednesday - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Churches offer 'ashes to go' on Ash Wednesday

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

What do Ash Wednesday and fast food have in common? In Springfield, a little more than you may think.

Plenty of Western Mass residents are taking coffee and bagels to go this morning, but what about ashes to go?

Several local reverends could be spotted on street corners offering ashes for those with too much on their plate or just looking for something new on this ash Wednesday.

For Feeding Hills resident, Virginia Gruska and about 100 others, it was an early rise to receive ashes, but there was no church in sight. Rather, two reverends from Western Mass churches were at Court Square and Tower Square offering ashes to those who wanted them.

"It's convenient, you know? Normally I go to church at Sacred Heart in Feeding Hills but today I figured I would try coming down here to the city,” said Gruska.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent in many Christian churches, 40 days before Easter Sunday. Many people give up something during Lent like junk food or TV.

Charity acts and fasting are also common. Todd Blanchard of Chicopee is taking the healthy route; giving up sweets and soda.

"Gives you a little discipline. Some sacrifice. Gives you a goal,” said Blanchard.

This is the fifth year of ashes on the go for Reverend Derrick Fetz. He tells Western Mass News it gives those who are busy all day at work a chance to be marked with the sign of the cross and a hope to make a difference in people's lives.

The Diaz family showed their Christian dedication today, coming all the way from Easthampton to try out ashes on the go.

The family attends church weekly and stays true to their faith. Jose's sisters live in Puerto Rico among the many others recovering from the devastation. However, the ashes on his forehead are a symbol of hope so he knows they can make it.

“We grew up that way, we were poor, we didn't have any money, so they know how to survive," Diaz said.

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