AUGUSTA — A National Guard family burned out of their home last week continues to receive donations from across the state as veterans prepare to host a benefit supper.
Sgt. Meaghan Bowers, analyst for the Maine Army National Guard, said donations from individuals and businesses have poured in for Steve and Jessie Eastman and their two young children whose Riverside Drive home was destroyed by the May 28 fire. Steven Eastman, who serves with the Maine Army National Guard, was away when the fire occurred.
“Right now they’ve been inundated with clothes,” Bowers said. “Steve said the kids have more clothes then they’ve had in their lives.”
Donations will be accepted through Monday at Military Family Assistance Offices in Bangor and Portland and at the Buker Center in Augusta.
Bowers said Augusta Area Military Association, a private club for current military and retired veterans, is working with the Veterans of Foreign Wars to host a benefit pot luck supper from 4-7 p.m. Saturday at the VFW Post 887 at 509 Leighton Road in Augusta. The VFW is donating use of the post and Damon’s has donated food and giveaways, Bowers said.
Bowers said the free supper is open to the public, though she encouraged those who attend to bring food to share and said cash donations will be accepted. There will be a cash bar and a 50/50 raffle.
“It’s a family event,” she said. “All the proceeds are going to the Eastman family. We don’t have to pay for anything.”
Donations also are being accepted online by searching Eastman House Fire Fund at GiveForward.com. To date, the effort has raised more than $3,000.
Bowers said the family’s immediate need for clothes and personal items have been met. Now, fund organizers are seeking donations of cash or gift cards to area stores, such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Hannaford, Target and Walmart, so they can replenish household items from sheets and towels to salt shakers.
Bowers said organizers have gone through a small mountain of donated clothes, books and toys.
“We’ve gone through two truckloads so far,” she said. “They’ve come in from all over the state. The military community has been very generous.”
Country Farm Furniture in Bath has donated mattresses and box springs, Bowers said. Amerigas’ Lewiston facility on Riverside Street on Friday, June 13, will offer a free propane tank exchange to anyone who donates the cost of the refill to the Eastman family.
“The community support has been awesome,” Bowers said.
The fire, which was sparked by an electrical malfunction, destroyed the Eastman’s home at 323 Riverside Drive. A state police trooper on his way to work reported the fire around 6:45 a.m., less than an hour after Jessie Eastman had left the home for the day with her children, ages 6 and 3. Two dogs died in the fire.
Eastman returned home the day of the fire and has been with his family since, Bowers said. She said both Steve and Jessie Eastman have returned to work.
The family is staying at an area hotel as they look for a three-bedroom apartment in a family neighborhood.
The Eastmans declined to comment, but Bowers said Jesse Eastman is anxious to express her gratitude.
“She did say thank you for the overwhelming response from the community for all the support and donations to help get her family through this difficult time,” Bowers said.
Craig Crosby — 621-5642