WATERVILLE — The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers recently hosted its annual dinner at the Elks Lodge to bring together employees, community members and businesses that have supported the 114-year-old agency. The night included a dinner, awards ceremony and silent auction. The event marked the beginning of the agency’s annual fundraising campaign and helped the agency raise more than $24,500, according to a press release.

“This was a special evening for us because of all the hard work our employees, volunteers and community partners have dedicated this year, especially to our Christmas Program. At the event we had the opportunity to recognize some of the many individuals that contribute to many programs that have a big impact in our community,” said Sharon Abrams, executive director for The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, in the release.

The dinner featured guest speaker Mike Violette, a Waterville native and morning show host on 560 WGAN in Portland. Violette, who was adopted at three months old, has supported the program for many years and is an annual contributor to the Christmas Program.

As part of the evening, Jill Huard, board president of The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers; Sharon Abrams, executive director; Steve Mayberry, development director; and Cristen Sawyer, Christmas Program director and volunteer coordinator, all spoke and presented recognition and awards to employees and community partners that helped the agency in 2012.

Employee of the Year — Stephen Mayberry, of Oakland.

Mayberry has been the development director since 2006. He has been instrumental in expanding fundraising efforts to include special community events and donations from across Maine and the country.

Student Volunteer of the Year — Cassy Lincoln, of Waterville.

Lincoln, 15, has volunteered for several years with her home-school group and on her own, with her mother Dawn. In 2012, Cassy became a self-taught boxing expert for the Christmas Program. She coordinated the arranging of more than 1,000 boxes in numerical order as they awaited transportation to the distribution sites. Her organization and commitment to detail allowed the staff and volunteers to go to the storage area and quickly locate any box.

Volunteer of the Year — Melissa Higgins, of Albion.

Higgins has been one of the telephone intake volunteers for the Christmas Program for several years, answering hundreds of calls from clients applying for the Christmas Program. She has adapted very well to the many changes that have been made to the intake procedures, database and telephone systems over the past few years.

Business Partner Awards

Huhtamaki, in Waterville: For many years, Huhtamaki has supported the Christmas Program. Each year they donate 1,200 boxes, which allows volunteers to pack Christmas gifts for more than 1,600 children. Plus, Huhtamaki has also provided donations to purchase clothing for the Christmas Program. In addition to a toy and clothing drive organized by their employees, this past year the company donated $3,500 to the Christmas Program.

Cozy Harbor Seafood, in Portland: For the past three years, Cozy Harbor Seafood has made a generous donation of clear lobster meat to the Friends of the Maine Children’s Home to support the Lobster Roll Lunch fundraiser held in October. This past year, the company donated more than 130 pounds of lobster meat. Friends of the Maine Children’s Home made a profit of more than $5,000 which was used to buy clothing for the Christmas Program, plus some of the money will be used to send underprivileged children to camp this summer.

Inland Hospital, in Waterville: The Community Benefits Program at Inland Hospital has provided a grant each year to support the counseling program Teen Parent School students and the students in the Alternative Education Program at Waterville Senior High School. With the hard work of Caroline Crowell, director of volunteers at Inland Hospital, the employees at the hospital conduct an extensive toy and clothing drive for the agency’s Christmas Program.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, in Winslow: Johnny’s Selected Seeds and their employees have made several contributions in a variety of ways to the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers over the years. The employees support the agency’s local events through fundraising efforts. Each year they conduct a toy and clothing drive at Christmas time, plus their staff provides donations to the agency’s camp scholarship program and the Christmas Program throughout the year.

Sappi Fine Paper, in Skowhegan: For the past seven years, Sappi has been the event sponsor for the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers Annual Dinner. In the past several years, they have provided hundreds of items of clothing and toys for the Christmas Program and attended several of the Maine Children’s Home annual events. They are also dedicated to supporting the agency’s summer camp scholarship program. Each year they sponsor underprivileged children to attend a local summer camp. This past summer, Sappi Fine Paper employees organized a golf tournament and the Maine Children’s Home was one of two nonprofits that benefited from the fundraiser.

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