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  • Writer's pictureNewton Neighbors

Welcoming Neighbors Newsletter, February 1, 2023

February in Newton

This month’s newsletter is full of ways to connect with and support your neighbors - through a Drive for Five for the Newton Community Freedge and our food insecurity projects, celebrating Black History Month, and more. We also have information about the proposed

Drive for Five for the Newton Community Freedge is back!

With the help of our generous neighbors, our previous Drive for Five initiatives have been such a success that we’re repeating them this year. Check your pantry, ask a neighbor, pick something up next time you go to the store! Help us stock the Freedge with these five high-demand items:

  1. Individually wrapped snacks (any kind of snack, granola bars, cereal bars or protein bars, goldfish, pretzels, etc.)

  2. Pasta and sauce

  3. Dried beans or rice (chickpeas, black beans, wild rice, etc.)

  4. Cooking oil

  5. Soaps (hand soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, etc.)

Drop off donations from Tuesday, January 31 - Thursday, February 9, at the following addresses:

To learn more about the free 24-hour community refrigerator and pantry at 420 Watertown Street in Nonantum, join the Newton Community Freedge Facebook group.

Volunteer for the Freedge

Newton Neighbors is responsible for stocking and maintaining the Freedge every Thursday. You can drop off items any time, any day, but If you have some time to give on Thursdays, please sign up here.

Food Pantry Delivery: Looking for Volunteers for February

We are looking for volunteers to help us deliver from food pantries in Newton to families who are unable to access the pantries themselves.

Delivery usually takes about an hour to complete. You can sign up to deliver during one or more of the following times:

Wednesday afternoons from the Newton Food Pantry, pick up food at assigned times between 12:15 - 2:45 pm.

The first Saturday of the month from Centre Street Food Pantry, pick up food between 1:30 - 2:30 pm after the pantry has been open to the public.

Please sign-up via this link:

Newton Tax Override Vote on March 14

On March 14, Newton voters will be asked to weigh in on a tax override to support our schools as well as our parks, seniors, roads, and sidewalks. We are sharing resources and information to keep our community informed about this important vote.

The override questions are broken into three votes: Question 1 includes a $4.5M increase for the Newton Public Schools budget. Questions 2 and 3 are debt exclusions for rebuilding two NPS elementary schools in poor condition.

Question 1: Operating Override

Massachusetts has a limit on the revenue a municipality can raise from property taxes. Towns can only exceed this limit if a majority of the voters agree to “override” the limit.

Question 1 is an operating override, with the money going into the City's operating budget. The tax increase would start on July 1, 2023. Funds are only required to be put into the named categories for the first year. However, the Mayor and her team have promised to fund them for as long as they are in office (“the strongest guarantee they can give”).

The named categories are funding Public Schools for student needs, street and sidewalk paving and safety, tree planting and maintenance, park and recreational facility improvements, improvements to Horace Mann Elementary School, sustainability and climate resiliency actions, and Senior Services programming and operations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023.

Questions 2 and 3: Debt Exclusion Overrides

Questions 2 and 3 are debt exclusion overrides for Countryside and Franklin Schools. The tax increase would pay for the debt on the bonds for the school construction. The increase would last until the bonds are paid off (30 years). State funding is paying for part of the Countryside project because the school was deemed one of the 15 worst in the state.

Newton's last override was in 2013 and paid for the Newton Centre fire station as well as Cabot, Zervas, and Angier Elementary Schools, and the modular classrooms at Mason-Rice and other schools. Since 2000 Newton has had 1 override, Wellesley has had 14, Lexington has had 9, and Needham has had 11.

Additional Sources of Information

Important Dates

Early February: Early voting and vote by mail

March 14: Override vote

A Wonderful Opportunity to Help Our Neighbors...

What is VITA - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance?

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $60,000and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. CAN-DO is partnering with the IRS to become a VITA in Newton.

Interested parties will be invited to participate in a zoom presentation by an IRS representative about the program and will have an opportunity to have their questions answered. This will provide them with the information they need in order to decide if they wish to make the commitment to be trained.

If you and/or you know someone who would be interested in learning more about the program and the expectations of a volunteer. please contact - Josephine McNeil, Executive Director of CAN-DO at either 617-543-8097 or by February 3rd.

Wells Avenue Y

February Is Black History Month!

Superhero Stories at Newton Free Library

Celebrate Black History Month with some of your favorite on-screen characters. Each Thursday Newton Free Library will show a movie or a show featuring a black superhero. This Thursday at 4:00pm is Black Panther. Join us for snacks and some coloring while we enjoy Wakanda! Kids of all ages welcome. More information at

Newton Community Pride Celebrates Black History Month

Film, book reading, Black art celebration, an Evening of Blacknificense, poetry, and theater: there’s something for everyone all month! Check out the schedule at

February 16: Moving North: Black Virginians in Newton

Between 1870 and 1900, more than 100 Black families moved from Virginia to West Newton, seeking mobility and better opportunities after the Civil War put an end to slavery.

Historic Newton presents “Moving North: Black Virginians in Newton,” a talk on February 16 at 7:00 p.m. that follows the lives of some of these families, exploring what they left behind, and the lives they were able to build in their new location. Register here.

And finally, some tips on staying warm this winter

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