2019-02-08 / In the Know

Seventh annual rally for fuel assistance is Feb. 16

By Bert Follansbee Special to the Leader

The polar vortex challenged us all with fending off the cold as the frigid arctic air settled in to remind us of winter’s bite. Even when temperatures and fuel prices aren’t as extreme, many in our community worry about how to heat a drafty home or stretch an already tight budget to buy extra fuel.

It can be a big setback especially when an unexpected event, like lack of work or illness, makes it hard to cover the usual bills. That’s when Project G.R.A.C.E.’s phones ring: When a neighbor needs a bit of help to get through a tough patch.

The Scarborough Public Safety departments will host their seventh annual drive-thru Rally to Keep Our Neighbors Warm at the Oak Hill Fire Station 10 a.m. to noon Saturday on Feb. 16 to help Project G.R.A.C.E. raise critical funds for its fuel assistance fund. One-hundred percent of the funds raised go directly to help local neighbors heat their homes.

Free activities during the two-hour event include tours of the public safety building and police/fire vehicles, public fire safety education, bake sale hosted by the Scarborough Lions Club, raffles and prizes that include pottery bowls made by Scarborough Alternative Education’s ceramics students and tips on saving energy and weatherization.

Scarborough Public Library will share tips on emergency preparedeness. MainePOPS musicians will brighten up the day with live music. There will be a makers table with the Daisy Troop’s Girl Scouts for crafting paper hearts and cards for seniors. The Boy Scouts will collect returnable bottles and cans and give out Clynk bags. Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center will showcase how animals adapt to winter. And more.

Local philanthropist, Eddie Woodin is the inspiration behind the rally. His challenge to Project G.R.A.C.E.: Raise $15,000 from the community. And in just two hours. It’s a big goal, but Eddie is confident the community will rally to keep our neighbors warm this winter and when we do, the neighbors-helping-neighbors group will earn a gift of $2,500 from him.

Project G.R.A.C.E. has already received an extraordinary pledge of $1,000 from an anonymous donor as well as gifts from sponsors such as Shooting Stars Program, Ameriprise Financial, KCV Trailer Rentals and Biddeford Savings that add up to about $2,000. But it is the many modest donations of $10, $25 and $50 that will get us to the goal on Saturday.

The Millbrook and Dunstan Crossing neighbors passed the hat for Project G.R.A.C.E. this past Christmas, Hillcrest Retirement Community and the Higgins Beach Association also held fundraisers that included donations to the fuel fund. If just 10 neighborhoods followed their example, and collected $250 for the fuel fund, that would tally to $2,500, or enough for about 10 deliveries of 100 gallons of oil, K1, propane, or cords of wood. Town employees have been collecting Clynks for the fuel fund all year round, too. Lots of small gifts add up quickly and each one helps us keep our promise that we won’t leave anyone in the cold.

The number of people who will drive through or stop by for a few minutes on a Saturday morning to show their support – including VIPs, TRIAD, Explorers, Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, SEDCO and Buy Local, town councilors, public officials and lawmakers, as well as friends and neighbors from all over town –- is indeed a testament to the value of community. It says a lot about the compassionate character of the people of our town, and our willingness to come together for a common purpose.

We hope we’ll see a large turnout on Saturday, Feb. 16, but if you can’t make it, donations can be made to the fuel fund online at www.fuelrally.weebly.com or mail a check to Project G.R.A.C.E., PO Box 6846, Scarborough, ME 04070- 6846. For all those who have already given, we and our friends at Project G.R.A.C.E. extend our warmest thanks.

Bert Follansbee is president of Project G.R.A.C.E.

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