MANCHESTER -- Berkshire Bank announced more than $840,000 in charitable foundation grants last week for the first half of 2014. Most notable to southern Vermont was a grant formed out of the ‘Hockey for Housing' fundraiser at the Boston Bruins games this past season, which went into a pool for 11 New England Habitat for Humanity affiliates.

The Berkshire Bank Foundation allocates a budget of $70,000 in charitable donations every year in Vermont, of which the Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity is usually included. The inaugural year of the ‘Hockey for Housing' fundraiser allowed the bank to extend additional dollars to Habitat affiliates, including a $4,000 award to the Bennington-area affiliate.

The foundation worked with the Bruins to donate $200 to the Habitat pool for each of the team's 220 penalty kills throughout the 2013-2014 season. The money was divided equally among the 11 affiliates to fund current projects.

"We've been long-term supporters of Habitat for Humanity, and have many employees who help out and participate in builds," said Berkshire Bank Foundation Director Lori Gazzillo. "They call themselves the ‘X-Team' Our head tellers also contributed to a build in Manchester on May 1."

Gazzillo also said the ‘Hockey for Housing' fundraiser is likely to return again for the 2014-2015 hockey season, calling it "a great venue for philanthropic support.


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Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity Board Chair Monica Knorr said this year's ‘Hockey for Housing' award "is a very generous continued support of the work we are doing on Jennifer Lane."

Habitat has completed four housing projects on Jennifer Lane in Manchester since the spring, with two more to complete by the end of the year.

Habitat will presume county-wide builds in 2015 with one more build on Jennifer Lane, and another on Swallow Hill Road in Pownal. The Pownal home will be designed by Bennington architect Jane Radocchia. The family search committee and planning committee are working to organize those projects to begin in spring.

In addition to contributing to Habitat projects, about 70 percent of Berkshire Bank employees donated over 40,000 volunteer hours to benefit community organizations across the Massachusetts-based bank's service area in 2013.

Vermont nonprofits filed over 11,000 grant applications with the foundation this year, of which some of the largest awards went to the Vermont Foodbank, the Rutland Area Visiting Nurses Association and the Housing Trust of Rutland County.

The foundation dole awards from grant requests for organizations that support education, community and economic development or health and human services.

Learn more about the Berkshire Bank Foundation, or how to submit a scholarship or grant request at https://www.berkshirebank.com/about-us/in_the_community/berkshire-bank-foundation.

Learn more about Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity or how to become a volunteer for its programs at http://www.benningtonareahabitat.com/.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg