Fuel fund active for residents in need

Posted Nov. 28, 2008, at 7:04 p.m.

WINTERPORT, Maine — Oil prices may have declined recently but that hasn’t dimmed residents’ support for the Winterport Fuel Fund.

Recently, representatives of the Winterport Fire and Rescue Association and Winterport Woman’s Club arrived at the town office with a $725 check for the fund. The money was raised at a spaghetti supper that also received the backing of the Oddfellows and Winterport Lions Club.

“We’re very appreciative for the contribution,” said Town Manager Phil Pitula. “We know it’s going to be a long, cold winter and anything people can do to help out really means a lot to us.”

The Winterport Fuel Fund was established a year ago when a newcomer to town dropped by the town office to donate $200 to help people with their heating needs that winter. At that point the town had no fund, but the Town Council immediately voted to match up to $1,000 in donated money to help the needy with their fuel bills.

“Since then we’ve received a lot of funds from residents of Winterport as well as from different parts of the state,” Pitula said. “There is fuel money available through the state and general assistance but this is for people who make too much money to qualify for that assistance who still find it challenging to stay warm in winter.”

Pitula noted that last year’s anonymous donor was back at the town office this fall with another $200 check for the fund.

For the Winterport Fire and Rescue Association and the Winterport Woman’s Club, the fuel fund was an ideal area to focus their fundraising goals. The two groups already had agreed to do some fundraising together and decided on a spaghetti supper as a perfect venue.

“We both said, ‘Why don’t we be altruistic about this and give it to the town’s heating fund?’” recalled Tom Skratt, the fire and rescue association’s secretary and treasurer.

Preparation for the supper began with a spaghetti sauce challenge on Nov. 1 at the Victoria Grant Civic Center. Woman’s Club member Shirley Philbrick was judged to have the best sauce and her recipe was used when the supper was held two weeks later at the Samuel Wagner School.

The Oddfellows and Lions contributed $300 toward the cost of ingredients. Russ Flewelling, of Bangor’s United Technology Center’s culinary arts program, who was raised in town, not only arranged to have his students make 35 loaves of focaccia bread for the supper but also helped prepare the meal. Volunteers were on hand to deliver meals to those who bought tickets to the supper but were unable to attend.

“We may have started a whole new thing here,” Skratt quipped. “A town supper by delivery.”

John Groleau, the winner of the 50-50 raffle held at the supper donated his winnings to the fuel fund. In addition, all leftovers were donated to the Bangor homeless shelter.

“That’s the thing that is really heartwarming,” Skratt said. “That so many groups and so many people came together to put this supper on and support it.”

Pitula said that because people who sometimes need help won’t often ask for it, the town was encouraging anyone who knows someone in need to convince them there’s no shame in asking for assistance. He said the town also contacted the local churches to make sure they were aware of the fund.

Those wishing to apply for assistance need to come to the town office and fill out some paperwork, he said. Anyone wishing to donate should contact the town office at 223-5055, or send a check payable to the town of Winterport, P.O. Box 559, Winterport 04496 and include on the memo line “Fuel Fund.”

wgriffin@bangordailynews.net

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