LEICESTER, Mass. — When someone in Leicester is in need of heat for their homes or food for their families, they know they can turn to town organizations such as Hearts For Heat and the Leicester Food Pantry. And, for years, the Leicester Savings Bank Fund has been there to help sustain these vital community resources.
Created in 1997, the fund is managed by the greater Worcester Community Foundation and supports projects that improve the quality of life and build a stronger community in Leicester.
Aimed at making a difference for residents of all ages, funds were awarded this year to a variety of local organizations involved in human services, education, recreation or the arts.
"It's amazing what this money brings in to the entire community, and what it does for everyone," said Leicester Police Chief Jim Hurley. Hurley explained that, not only did the funds help the department acquire a defibrillator and support its D.A.R.E. program, but ithey also have had a great impact on the town as a whole.
According to Cheryl Cooney, director of the Leicester Food Pantry, the fund provides 25 percent of her organization's annual budget, and, for six grant cycles, has helped the its ongoing efforts to feed local families.
The Leicester Public Library Capital Campaign received $4,500 as part of its ongoing effort to fund the renovation and expansion of the library.
Additional grants went to Massachusetts Audubon, which operates the Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary on the Spencer/Leicester line. Through the grants, Tammy Fleming Maus, a natural history guide, has been running educational programs at Leicester Primary School and Leicester High School that brought students outdoors to explore life cycles of butterflies and frogs, as well vernal pools.
"The programs provide really good knowledge to kids at an early age, and they can share their knowledge about how a body of water such as a vernal pool should not be filled in," she said. "Without really good contractors and ethical home-builders, they'll set them right on top and there goes the fairy shrimp and the spotted salamander and bull frogs, and some of them are endangered."
For more information about the Leicester Savings Bank Fund, click here to visit their website.