Instead of buying gifts for each other this holiday season, members of the A Shift team at the Waterville Fire Department pooled money together as a donation in response to Maine Children’s Home’s call for donations. Fire department members from left are Michelle Grass, Tyler Dunn, Battalion Chief Eion Pelletier, Paul Beaupre, Teddi Bates, Courtney Munger and Capt. Benjamin Jandreau; with Christmas Program Director Amanda Simmons, HR Coordinator Melissa Bonnel and Program Assistant Beccy Bellefleur. Program Assistant Dakota Libby is standing in the back with a red jacket. Submitted photo

WATERVILLE — Over the past two weeks, 74 businesses and organizations answered an urgent call from Maine Children’s Home’s winter essentials program — Christmas Program — for donations of warm clothing for 1,201 Maine children whose families are facing financial hardship this year.

The call came in November when MCH was in desperate need of donations of brand new winter boots, jackets, pajamas, underwear, and socks of all sizes.

Statewide Towing Inc. in Augusta was one of 74 businesses that helped collect much needed donations of winter gear for Maine Children’s Home’s Christmas Program. The program was in desperate need of brand new winter essentials for children whose families are facing financial hardship this year. Submitted photo

“By mid-November, we had received and approved applications for more than 1,100 children to the program and were receiving 50 requests from families per day,” said MCH Executive Director Candace Marriner, according to a news release from the home. “Our inventory was getting so low that we unfortunately had to place 150 children on a waitlist for basic winter items. Once we announced the urgent need for donations, it was so heartwarming to see the surrounding businesses and generous individuals rally for the kids and families who benefit from our program. Thanks to their support, we were able to lift our waitlist and pack boxes for a total of 1,201 children.”

Each year, the winter essentials program relies on the generosity of donors, volunteers and community support to provide warm clothing, toys, books, and games to hundreds of children ages 12 and younger. In 2022 the program served 1,116 children from 526 families in 128 towns across Maine. This year, with the boost of support from businesses, the program was able to pack boxes for 85 more children and a total of 554 families in 144 towns.

The 74 businesses and organizations across the state helped collect donations for the winter essentials program by participating in the program’s Giving Tree campaign — a campaign leading up to the winter season. Through this campaign, businesses and organizations chose to do one or more of the following:

• Become a host of a donation drive for their employees or community
• Become a donation collection site for their area
• Sponsor a family by donating $500 to $1,000
• Engage employees to volunteer packing boxes or organizing inventory at Christmas Program
• Host a Giving Tree display — a display of tags for needed items that employees or patrons can take to purchase specific items, or by posting a Giving Tree poster of QR codes for monetary donations.

“We know that 42% of households in Maine have trouble affording basic needs,” said Marriner. “The sheer number of requests we were receiving from families shows me that Mainers are struggling, and how much community efforts like Christmas Program matter. We are so grateful to every donor and volunteer that makes this program possible.”

For more information, email or call 207-873-4253.


Check out other upcoming area events!

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: