AUGUSTA — Attending the chocolate festival that raised money for Bread of Life Ministries on Sunday was an easy sell for Cathy Heil.

“One, it’s a very good cause we need people to support,” the South China woman said as she sampled a brownie. “Number two, it’s chocolate. I don’t think there are many more reasons than that.”

Heil’s partner, Fran LaPointe, doesn’t enjoy chocolate quite as much, but she was happy to be able to support Bread of Life’s programs, which include a soup kitchen, shelters and a job resource center.

“It wasn’t for the chocolate,” LaPointe said about her reasons for being there. “It was for Bread of Life Ministries. There’s a lot of people not getting the food they need, especially in the tough times they’re in.”

Bread of Life is facing its own struggles because of the federal government spending cuts known as sequestration, Executive Director Dean Lachance said. Funding for the organization’s shelters is continually being cut, and they also lost a $6,000 grant to feed seniors.

“It was really time for us to look seriously at a formal fundraiser,” Lachance said.

Bread of Life has raised money in various ways, including spaghetti suppers, but has never organized a fundraiser as involved as Sunday’s Family Fun Chocolate Festival at the Elks Lodge. There was music, a silent auction, a raffle and several businesses offering samples of chocolate treats.

Wicked Whoopie’s served a variety of whoopie pies, Slates Restaurant offered gluten-free brownies, the Senator Inn and Rebecca’s Place restaurant auctioned off tall chocolate cakes, and the Downtown Diner brought trays of miniature cupcakes.

With a husband and an aunt who are veterans, Jennifer Dumond, co-owner of Kennebec Chocolates, said she appreciates Bread of Life’s efforts to help veterans find housing.

“I’ve been friends with Dean for quite a while, and we believe in what he’s doing in the community,” Dumond said.

The chocolate festival also gave Kennebec Chocolates a chance to show off some of the baked goods they’ll have available to order for Thanksgiving and the chocolates they market as Christmas gifts.

Lachance said he hoped to raise $10,000 from the event. With the holidays coming up, Bread of Life will have a lot of people to help feed.

Lachance said he chose the event’s theme, which was inspired by a chocolate festival he attended in Portland several years ago, becuase it was fun and family-friendly. He’d like to make it an annual event.

Carrie Anna Wess, who lives in Winthrop, was thrilled with the whole thing.

“I’m a chocolate girl,” she said. “I think it’s amazing. Everyone that created this yummy stuff is amazing.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
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