ROSES to the Mount Anthony Union High School students and staff who participated in the Helping Hands project this year. Now in its sixth year, the project encourages members of the MAUHS community to adopt a local family in need and provide items for those families' holiday wish lists. Because of the generosity of the MAU "family," 114 Bennington-area children will receive holiday gifts they otherwise would not have. "Our business is children, so really, all we want is for them to have a good holiday," said Sue Maguire, MAUHS principal.

ROSES to the musicians who braved slightly-above zero-degree temperatures on Dec. 14 to play Christmas carols for passersby for "Tuba Christmas." The musicians -- most from the local high school and colleges -- donned jackets, hats, gloves and even blankets to perform for two hours outside of the Bennington Petco for the annual holiday tradition. "There's only so much music in a small community," said Jay Sager, band instructor at Mount Anthony Union Middle School. "People dig it -- so if they're listening, we'll play.

ROSES to the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center's participation in the state's "Wood Warms" program. High school juniors and seniors in the Forestry and Heavy Equipment class are helping to sort and cut firewood to benefit area families and elderly residents who may be struggling with heating costs but do not qualify for standard government heating assistance programs. To date, 12 cords of wood have already been cut and delivered to wood-burning residences. With this week's sometimes super chilly temperatures, these efforts were likely much appreciated!

ROSES to Southern Vermont College's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for collecting and donating approximately 200 toys to the Bennington-Rutland Opportunity Council this week. The toys will be distributed by BROC to area families in need. "This is a really big benefit for our clients to be able to have some toys and gifts for their kids without worrying about also trying to pay for fuel," said Maryann St. John, county supervisor for community services at BROC.

ROSES to young Hoosick resident Andrew Stratton, 8, whose instincts helped to save his family from a fire in his home on Nov. 20. Stratton woke up that night and saw a light on in the bedroom of his two little brothers, ages 2 and 4. He noticed they had been playing under the bedcovers with a lamp that caught the sheets on fire. He got his brothers out of the room and yelled for help, according to his mother. Stratton was honored recently by the Hoosick Fire Department. The boy's reaction was exactly the type of fire prevention that firefighters aim to teach kids in the classroom, according to Hoosick Fire Capt. Leo Surdam. "We're very proud of him for knowing what to do, and potentially saving his brothers and their home," said Stratton's grandmother, Mary Ann Hanselman.

~Michelle Karas