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Curing the flu, wedding dresses for soldiers, and food for the elderly

A bride-to-be tries on a gown at a Brides Across America event in Andover last year. The organization, which gives wedding dresses to military members and first responders, is setting up a shop there. Green Barn Wedding Photography

A national organization based in Andover that gives wedding dresses to local military and first responders is setting up a shop there. The Brides Across America Charity Shop was set to hold its public opening at 342 N. Main St. on July 13. The enterprise has given more than 20,000 wedding dresses and 20 free weddings to military and first responder brides-to-be or their fiances since it was created in 2008. The organization was honored at the White House in 2012 by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden for working to improve the lives of military families, according to its website. The charity shop is open to the public and accepts dress donations.

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center, a collaboration involving the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Worcester campuses, has been chosen as one of eight business incubators to help eradicate the flu and sepsis. Over the next five years, M2D2, as it is known, will receive $500,000 from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to offer its facilities and expertise to participating startups. According to a UMass Lowell press release, Versatope Therapeutics and ExThera Medical Corp. have already set up shop with M2D2 in Lowell.


The Plum Island-based Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is now accepting applications for berry-picking permits until July 31. Fifty free permits for picking beach plums and cranberries are available in the lottery. Applicants will be notified by Aug. 10. The lucky winners can pick plums at the refuge, which includes parts of Newbury, Newburyport, Ipswich, and Rowley, from Sept. 1 to 30 and cranberries from Oct. 1 til Nov. 15. To apply, e-mail with “Berry Picking Permit Lottery” in the subject line, and include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number in the body of the text.

The Merrimac Fire Department recently appointed a new fire chief. Larry Fisher, a member of the department since 1980, was sworn in June 25, replacing Ralph Spencer upon his retirement. According to a press release from the department, Fisher worked his way up the ranks, becoming a lieutenant in 1987, a captain in 1999, and deputy chief in 2000. He has also owned his own business, Larry S. Fisher Electric, which has done work for state fire prevention agencies, since 1984.


Tufts Health Plan Foundation is supporting an initiative to make fresh, healthy food available to elderly Lowell residents. The foundation donated $20,000 to help expand Mill City Grows, a food justice organization for access and education in Lowell, according to a press release. The organization will use the funds for new Mobile Market locations, additional promotions and incentives, and more products requested by older residents. Lydia Sisson, the group’s codirector, said the grant allows it to strengthen its community partnerships and help seniors use the state’s Healthy Incentives Program to have access to fresh, affordable produce. Lowell is one of 16 cities to receive the award.

Salem State University recently appointed a local man to its foundation board. Michael Stockbridge, a Salem resident and university alum, was added to the 19-member board, which is comprised of alumni and community leaders who raise and manage funds donated to the university. Stockbridge graduated from Salem State with a bachelor’s and master’s in social work by 2002, and now works as a psychotherapist for Psychological Care Associates in Woburn.


Morgan Hughes can be reached at