Kwanzaa, the Festival of First Fruits, is a celebration of family, community, culture and values of traditional African culture. It was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as an African American and Pan-African holiday.

At the first Kwanzaa celebration the letter “a” was added to the end of the Swahili word kwanza, enabling seven children to participate in the meaning of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African, African American and human in the fullest sense. The seven-day celebration is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

The Kwanzaa ceremony is secular, not religious, and aims to strengthen the African cultural identity and community values which provide a spiritual experience, engaging in an ancient and living cultural tradition. The ceremony reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community, culture and the well-being of family. The integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture is part of this celebration. It is within this understanding that Kwanzaa is the keeper of this tradition.

Kwanzaa is important to reaffirm the essential meaning and practice of the Nguzo Saba (the seven principles) daily and throughout the year in a constant effort to expand and enrich our lives and share the good in the world.

The seven days, expressed in Swahili, are: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).

The Martha’s Vineyard Chapter of the NAACP invites the Island community to join in celebrating Kwanzaa on Dec. 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Oak Bluffs Methodist Parish Hall in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground. Everyone is welcome.

Marie B. Allen

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Had you walked into Grace Church last Friday morning, you would have been hard-pressed to find an empty square yard of space in which to stand. There were fishing poles stacked in one corner, blankets and bedding in another, a mountain of diapers in the rear of the church and a row of bicycles lined against one wall. Twenty-five large boxes of food filled a back office. The entire church and church hall were filled with bags of clothing and toys which even overflowed into the hallways and into the kitchen. And in three hours time it was all gone and the miracle that is Red Stocking had once again provided for the needs of 376 children from 248 Island families. This represented an increase of 30 children over last year. However, like all nonprofits, this year we expected an increase in applications and a decrease in donations.

How does this happen each year? It happens because of the army of volunteers who spend endless hours shopping, wrapping and raising funds. This effort has become second nature to so many Vineyarders who automatically appear and “do their thing.” It happens because the Harley Riders raised close to $20,000 for us, over $10,000 of which was raised singlehandedly by Donald Ben David. It happens because Trader Fred gave us 45 winter jackets last year. It happens because Greg Orcutt and the staff of WMVY organize the Chowder Fest and the Chili Contest year after year. It happens because the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank employees sponsored 12 children and the Edgartown National Bank stepped up to sponsor the Chowder Fest and 100 per cent of the employees of Martha’s Vineyard Insurance Company made donations which were matched by the company. It happens because Brickman’s and Basics and Kiddos and Trader Fred and M.V. Heart discount and wrap and store all our clothing purchases. It happens because Stop and Shop and Reliable and Cronig’s generously help with our over $30,000 worth of food gift certificates. It happens because East Chop Sleep Shop delivers 12 complete beds and provides blankets and bedding for those children who have none. It happens because the staff at Dukes County Health Access Program, especially Maria Mouzinho, are always there when we need them. It happens because the families of Good Shepherd Parish provide toys, hats, and mittens for 50 children and Grace Church simply and joyfully turns over its entire facility to us for a full week and the other churches provide clothing and sponsor families. By no means is this an exhaustive list as there are a hundred more contributors, workers and supporters. It really happens because the Vineyard truly cares for its children in need, and as of yet has never failed to help us meet that need.

Red Stocking is about children. It is our firm belief that all Island children, regardless of race, ethnic background or parental circumstances, deserve to have warm clothes to wear, food to eat, a warm bed in which to sleep, and a few toys to play with. No child should have to sit indoors today and envy his playmates enjoying the snow outside because he has no jacket, mittens or boots. It really is about the children and once again the Vineyard has generously taken care of its own and enabled the Red Stocking committee to “do its thing.” On behalf of 376 children, we thank you all.

Kerry H. Alley and Lorraine Clark

Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The phone call from the Santa program run by the Friends of the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging is a wonderful way for children to experience an individualized conversation with Santa via a personal phone call to the child’s home. The nominal fee charged for the call from Santa helps the council on aging make this experience happen for numerous children at this holiday time. Kudos to all at the council, especially Rose Cogliano and Karen Achille for making this happen and all they do in the community. I learned from them that my granddaughter was happy to know she was not on the naughty list and she would like Santa to bring her a telescope.

Michelle Scarpone



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

After 12 years of a heroic fight against breast cancer, my wife, Corrine Hatt, lost the battle. But with the help of her devoted friends and family, she enjoyed every day.

I’d like to thank Drs. Lipsey, Ross and Carmen for allowing me to enjoy the last 12 years with the love of my life.

Thanks to Sharon Spinney and all at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for their caring, to Mary Ellen for showing my wife you can win. And for being a friend, to Audrey Harding at VNA for her loving care, help and advice. And to Marie Sequeira at VNA, thank you. You were an angel during her last days. Your caring took some of the pain away.

My wife was a mentor to many who had this disease, and hopefully, an inspiration to those who are still battling.

As darkness falls, look up in the night sky and pick out a large, twinkling star. That’s her, winking down at all of us.

Again, thank you to everyone who in some way played a part in this terrific woman’s life.

Richard A. Stone