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TOWNSEND — For about 30 kids in Townsend center, trick-or-treating started a few days early this year.

The Village Common Children Center, 5 Brookline St., participates in an annual Halloween stroll where the children trick or treat at businesses downtown. They walk to Townsend Pizza, McNabb Pharmacy, the post office and Worker’s Credit Union.

“The businesses are so generous,” said the center’s director, Melissa Gruber. “Every year I ask them if they’d participate and every year they tell me they wouldn’t even think twice not to.”

The children dressed up in their Halloween costumes and paraded door-to-door, happy as could be.

Terrence McNabb, owner of McNabb Pharmacy, said that his favorite part of the annual stroll was “just seeing the joy and smiles on their faces.”

Many parents and family members attended and jumped right in on the action. Not only did they walk with the children during their stroll, but they made and donated cookies for the kids to decorate during class hours.

Theresa Arsenault was there supporting her 3-year-old grandson, Ryan Boucher. She remembers when her daughter, Kate Boucher, who was also there with her son, Ryan, was dressed up in her own little costume nearly 30 years ago.

“She was standing right over there dressed up as a tight-rope walker. The theme was a circus and all the kids dressed up as some part of it.”

Gruber made it clear that one of the center’s goals was to involve parents and family members as much as they could.

“We encourage a lot of family interaction. A lot of these children have had siblings in the program and the parents keep coming back. I guess that means we’re doing our job.”

This year, the center was fortunate enough to be able to bring in a little bit more life to the classroom. They are very thankful to the Willette family in Lunenburg who donated 22 chicken eggs, an incubator and a brooder. Sunday, Oct. 24 marked the birth of seven little chicks that have fluttered their way into the heart of Townsend just in time for some Halloween fun. They are being taken care of by the center’s staff members and, more importantly, the children.

“We got to see the eggs ‘rockin’ n ‘rollin’,” said staff member Kelly Kelly. “They were shaking in their shells days before they hatched.”

The kids have been with these chicks from a very early stage, which allows them to engage in an educational experience while having a blast doing it. Everyone agrees that the chicks have become a part of the classroom and have encouraged the kids to be very hands-on.

“I like coming in every day and seeing the chicks,” said 4-year-old Ryan Callahan.

“They are very much in love,” said Gruber. “They love to hold them and sing to them. They’re so nurturing. You know, we really can’t thank this family enough for the donation.”

The unique part about the center is that they try to accommodate the working parent. Their hours are very flexible and their goal is to find a schedule that will meet the family’s needs. The program is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. They are a nonprofit center with a pre-school as well as an infant toddler program. They also have a limited school-age program.

“It’s a busy, busy program, which is great,” said Gruber.

The center strives to provide a comfortable and loving atmosphere for the children, but they also want to make it a learning experience as well. According to the center’s website, one of their four objectives is to engage in age-appropriate social education for young children. If you would like to learn more about the programs they offer, visit

The Village Common Children Center runs a quality child-care program filled with close relationships among the staff, the kids and their families.

“Once you come in, you are always part of our family,” said Gruber.