Groups join forces to help four food pantries

Posted Sept. 28, 2010, at 8:42 p.m.

When I received an e-mail about a fundraiser from Marge Ahlin of Machias, several things caught my attention.

First is that the event will benefit four Washington County food pantries in Machias, Whiting, Jonesport and Cherryfield.

The second, as Marge explained, is that those pantries are helping to feed “almost 900 families, and this number will surely swell as cold weather sets in.”

And finally, many area residents are putting forth their best efforts to make this fundraiser a success.

Downriver Theatre Company will present “Downeast Tonight with the Pinkham Brothers and Pink Ham the Band” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Maine at Machias.

Admission is $15, and advance tickets may be purchased at Machias Hardware Store.

The show, Marge wrote, features a large cast of area residents and was sold out when it was presented this summer in Winter Harbor.

Marge and the DTC board previously have held benefits for the community, and when she received a call from representatives of a local food pantry asking for help, she knew the group would want to do something.

Then, when UMM music professor Gene Nichols mentioned a show he was involved with, and the hope it could be brought to Machias in the fall, Marge realized “we could pool our resources and the net proceeds could benefit the food pantries.”

Although busy at the time writing and directing the community play for the annual Machias Blueberry Festival, Marge went ahead and, with the kind cooperation of UMM, reserved the theater and started working with Lucille Harrington of Milbridge to prepare for what should be a most entertaining production to benefit four essential nonprofits.

Considering the talent, it’s sure to be a production you won’t want to miss.

Lucille told me the show stars her husband, retired folklorist Rod Harrington, and his former partner and longtime friend, Dana Sawyer of the Maine College of Art, reunited after the release 25 years ago of their comedy album “Pinkham Brothers Welcome to Maine.” The album, by the way, has been re-released as a CD and is available online.

Rod wrote the show and most of the music, Lucille said. Gene is the music director, Marge acts as producer, and Lucille is the stage manager.

Other “stars” of what is a very large cast include veteran performer Norman Nelson, master of ceremonies David Whitney, and musicians offering original material such as Hazel Carter and Brian Stewart.

Everyone involved “is getting a kick out of doing it,” Lucille told me of what she describes as “a great opportunity to work together.”

And, she said, those volunteering their time and talent for this fundraiser hope to fill all 364 seats for this one-night event.

“We’re hoping to pack that hall,” Lucille said.

For her, the opportunity to present the show for such a worthy cause has “absolutely been a blessing.”

“We’ve always been active in our church and doing charitable things and this was sort of a gift. We had no idea it was coming.

“For me, it’s all about doing fun things with our friends, and the opportunity to do something for the food pantries was serendipitous.

“We do hope to get another full house.”

In addition to ticket sales, Marge said, folks have been out gathering sponsorships from area business owners, and the response has been most gratifying.

The program, she added, features a George Eliot quote: “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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