Warm the Children fundraising heats up with 21st annual ‘break-athon’

Nick Constantine, age 14, breaks boards at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s annual “break-athon” on Sunday, where students raise money for the Greenfield Recorder’s Warm the Children charity.

Nick Constantine, age 14, breaks boards at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center’s annual “break-athon” on Sunday, where students raise money for the Greenfield Recorder’s Warm the Children charity. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Nine-year-old Xavier Pouliot of Turners Falls breaks a board during the 21st annual “break-athon” fundraiser at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center on Sunday.

Nine-year-old Xavier Pouliot of Turners Falls breaks a board during the 21st annual “break-athon” fundraiser at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 11-20-2023 4:08 PM

GREENFIELD — Taekwondo pupils lined up all day long on Sunday to break boards while building community.

The 21st annual “break-athon” fundraiser at the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center consisted of students breaking boards into smaller pieces that are then sold for heating, with proceeds benefiting Warm the Children, the Greenfield Recorder’s charity that helps provide warm clothing for families in need across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. In addition to selling the scraps of wood, donations can be made as single, flat-rate donations or by pledging a small amount per broken board.

“It’s a pretty exciting thing to break the boards, but the kids know where the money is going, which is the most important piece,” said Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center owner and instructor David Johnson.

When Sunday’s event concluded, all broken pieces were placed into large bags that will continue to be sold for kindling at a price of $10 per bag. Johnson said donations came close to $4,000 that day and money is expected to keep flowing in for four to six weeks.

The fundraiser has been happening for 21 years, raising a cumulative total of more than $110,000 since 2002. Johnson started the event as he had been hearing more about Warm the Children, and decided that the students could take their usual demonstrations of their taekwondo techniques and have them benefit a good cause. He recalls his staff and students were on board right away.

Johnson said the studio has been training and preparing the students for weeks now. Two children learned to break boards for the first time, making the fundraiser the perfect moment to practice.

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One student participating was 10-year-old Colrain resident Chloe Behilo.

“I decided to participate because I wanted to help raise money for Warm the Children,” Chloe said. “I feel bad for the children who go to school with nothing to keep them warm or the things you need to have a nice life.”

Chloe started taking taekwondo classes in 2020, but stopped during the pandemic and picked it up again this year. She said she likes martial arts because it helps bring out who she truly is.

Cowls Building Supply in Amherst, The J Team in South Deerfield, Lamore Lumber Post & Beam in Deerfield and Hamshaw Lumber in Greenfield all donated lumber for the event. Instructors spent the day before the break-athon cutting the wood and preparing for the big day.

Anyone who would like to send tax-deductible donations for Warm the Children may address them to the Greenfield Recorder, Warm the Children Fund, P.O. Box 1367, 14 Hope St., Greenfield, MA 01301. The annual winter donation drive, which runs through the end of December, provided new coats and clothes to about 900 children last year, raising $70,290 to cover expenses.

For more information about the Greenfield Tae Kwon Do Center and its charity efforts, visit grnfldtkd.com.

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com.