Around the Towns

Groundworks sets up drop boxes to collect personal care items

BRATTLEBORO - Groundworks Collaborative, aided by the Windham County Democrats, has set up drop boxes to collect toiletries and personal hygiene items. These items are always in continual demand, and Groundworks' goal is to provide a small stockpile of these necessities.

Drop boxes are located at Village Square Booksellers in Bellows Falls, D&K's Jamaica Grocery in Jamaica, and Everyone's Books in Brattleboro.

Needed items include bandannas, shampoo and conditioner, tampons, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shaving cream and razors, allergy medication, cough and cold medicines, pain relievers (especially ibuprofen), melatonin, earbuds/headphones, various sizes and styles of adult underwear (especially men's), and $20 gas cards.

The collection drive takes place through April.

COVID-19 relief money now available to immigrants in Vermont

BURLINGTON - In the first CARES Act stimulus package last year, most of the country received individual checks of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child. Many immigrants were left out of this cash payment.

Vermont has become one of the first states in the country to create a COVID-19 economic stimulus fund with state funding for individuals who were previously unable to receive federal stimulus checks due to their immigration status. If eligible, each adult will receive $1,200 and $500 for each child.

Adults are eligible for the state fund if they are 18 years or older; resided in Vermont on April 1, 2020; currently reside in Vermont; had an adjusted gross income of less than $99,000 in 2019 (or if filing taxes jointly, an adjusted gross income of less than $198,000); and were ineligible to receive a 2020 CARES Act stimulus payment from the federal government “due to reasons of immigration status.”

If all conditions apply, adults are also eligible to receive $500 for each child if they are the child's parent or legal guardian, the child is under 17 years of age, and no other parent or guardian is claiming that same child for a payment from this fund.

Eligible individuals may register at Multiple translations for non-English speakers are available there. The deadline to register is Saturday, May 1.

Food benefits to help make up for missed school meals

WATERBURY - The federal government has authorized the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Agency of Education (AOE) to provide a temporary food benefit to pre-K-12 students who would normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school.

These benefits, called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT, may be used to buy eligible food items anywhere 3SquaresVT is accepted.

P-EBT benefits will be based on the student's learning model for the month: $119.35 for a remote learning month and $71.61 for a hybrid learning month (some days at school, some days remote).

No benefit will be provided for an in-person learning month.

Approximately $14.7 million in benefits will be issued to 21,844 Vermont households with 33,066 students for September 2020 through February 2021.

Eligible households will receive a letter explaining the benefit. All eligible households should receive their benefit by Thursday, April 29. Another benefit for March through June will be issued in July.

Households that get 3SquaresVT on an EBT card may be issued this additional benefit on their cards. Other households will be issued special P-EBT cards.

Benefits will be active for a year from the date of issuance and are non-transferable.

To learn more, visit

Farmers to Families food box program extended through May

BARRE - Thanks to community and federal support, the Vermont Foodbank will extend the Farmers to Families Food Box program through May.

To keep wait times to a minimum, reservations will be required for the distributions.

To register and see upcoming distribution dates and locations, visit or call 802-476-0316 for assistance. New distribution dates and locations are posted periodically; check back if you do not see the location or date you are looking for.

Each reservation will receive one box with about 30 pounds of food, including fresh produce, dairy products, and meat.

You are welcome to pick up food for other families who are not able to make it to the pickup site; just be sure to make a separate reservation for each household you would like to pick up for.

First Wednesday talk examines bubonic plague

BRATTLEBORO - Brooks Memorial Library's First Wednesday lecture in May looks at another historic episode in public health - the bubonic plague outbreak that swept through the Eurasian world of the 14th century and left long-term consequences.

Celia Gaposchkin, professor of history at Dartmouth University, presents an overview of what came to be known as “the Black Death” and briefly compares the plague to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The First Wednesdays Lecture Series, a collaboration between the Vermont Humanities Council and Vermont public libraries, will be delivered via Zoom at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, with recordings of the event subsequently available on the VHC Facebook and YouTube channel.

Register for the live event, which includes an opportunity for questions and answers by attendees, at

The Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays series is held every month from October through May. Its programs in Brattleboro are sponsored by the Friends of Brooks Memorial Library.

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