MONMOUTH — With the price of oil increasing and help from the government reduced from previous years, two local women are trying to bridge the gap.

Nancy Ludewig and Darlene Sanborn have been raising money for the town’s fuel assistance fund for the past two weeks. Making the rounds at basketball games, theater performances and other public events, the duo has already raised $2,000, half of which came in the form of a single, anonymous donation.

“People have been so good about it,” Ludewig said. “People are willing to do what they can.”

Ludewig and Sanborn, who have dubbed their fundraiser Families Helping Families, started thinking last fall about ways to ways to bolster the fuel assistance fund. That program, which is funded entirely by the yearly fuel assistance tournament at Cobbossee Colony Golf Course, provides about $2,000 per year for home heating oil for Monmouth residents who do not qualify for general assistance.

Town Manager Curtis Lunt said the fund is particularly important this year in light of the federal government’s decision to slash funding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

“It’s going to be a struggle,” Lunt said.

Ludewig decided to offer up a queen-sized quilt she made for raffle and hit public venues around town to sell tickets. She and Sanborn have also sent out 100 letters to businesses and clubs in the area and have donation cans set up in stores around town.

Ludewig, a now-retired, long-time teacher in the Monmouth school district — Sanborn’s admiration of Ludewig began when Sanborn was her fifth-grade student — has also sought help from teachers and students. Monmouth Middle School eighth-graders plan to take half the proceeds from their annual class trip fundraiser and donate to the fuel fund and faculty at the middle school will giving money generated through Jean Friday to the program. The Monmouth Academy Key Club also is working to develop a fundraiser.

“We’re really interested in getting the kids involved,” Ludewig said. “It’s a grass-roots effort.”

Sanborn led a fundraiser this summer that raised more than $7,000 to help a local woman with medical expenses. She was a natural when Ludewig asked for a partner to raise money for fuel assistance.

“I am just organized, I guess,” Sanborn said. “I’m in sales. Asking people for money is what I do all the time. I can’t help people financially, but I can give this.”

The fundraiser has struck a chord with people, Ludewig said. She and Sanborn hope to make the program a year-round effort.

Lunt said the fundraiser is commendable.

“There’s a lot of people in the community that are willing to help, but they need to be asked,” he said. “It shows what kind of community we really have.”

For more information about donating or buying a raffle ticket, contact Ludewig at 933-4677 or at [email protected] or Sanborn at 933-2557 or [email protected]

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]