Merchants group supports MDI Y fundraiser

Posted Dec. 02, 2010, at 6:06 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:41 a.m.

Now through Dec. 31, the Mount Desert Island YMCA is conducting its Annual Appeal Campaign, and the Bar Harbor Merchants Association has come up with a very special way to contribute to that effort in recognition of its first supporting member.

BHMA is asking area business owners to suggest to customers that they round up their sale to the nearest dollar and the change will be donated to the MDI YMCA’s Annual Appeal Campaign.

I don’t know about you, but I really like this idea.

Having had the opportunity to participate in such simple fundraisers on a few occasions, I find it helps keep my checkbook straight whether I’m entering the amount of a newly written check or entering a debit purchase.

Even numbers are nice and, although the odd change may be a small amount, if we all do “round up,” it does make a difference.

Amy Roebuck of Our New England Country Store on Main Street in Bar Harbor is president of BHMA, and Doreen Willett is membership director of the MDI YMCA and secretary of the BHMA.

Doreen and her husband, John Willett, own The Man Store in Bar Harbor.

BHMA has been around for a few years, but the MDI YMCA is the first organization in its new “Supporting Member” category, which BHMA hopes to expand by including other similar organizations and nonprofits that serve community needs.

It was Amy who came up with the idea to ask BHMA members to do something that won’t cost them anything more than “a bit of time” but that would be of great help to the YMCA.

For those businesses that can participate, the women suggest the owners set their register to enter a donation item number and item that gets recorded, “or do a little math” and put the change in a jar.

Whatever works best, works for all, Doreen said, adding that some customers may even ask for their change and then put it in a jar, if a donation jar is available.

“The good thing is that most of the retailers we have gone to are really excited about participating,” the women said.

Most of those businesses, approximately 15, are retailers because some BHMA businesses, such as banks and nonprofit organizations, just can’t put a jar on the counter, they explained.

In addition to getting community members involved in an easy and convenient way to support the local YMCA, the effort is also a way for BHMA members to encourage the support and promotion of other organizations that serve the community in a variety of ways.

From her perspective as a business owner, Amy said the response at her store has been very positive.

“People are very happy to give. Most people are supportive and think it’s a fantastic idea.”

After all, she said, it’s very easy to just take that “small amount of change that you would throw in the bottom of your purse and use it when people need help.”

“It’s just a good thing for the MDI community,” Doreen added.

While the MDI YMCA serves all of Mount Desert Island, the major concentration of those who use the 21 Park St. facility live within a 10-mile radius of Bar Harbor.

Proceeds from the MDI YMCA’s Annual Campaign will help support everything from programs for youth and seniors to scholarships that will enable those with limited funds to participate in the YMCA.

“And we do have to raise money for the operation of the facility,” Doreen reminds us.

BHMA is a four-season, community-based organization with a stated purpose of promoting Bar Harbor as a destination location year-round, the women said.

“We feel it is important to support the community at large and one of the best ways of doing that is bringing on board people who can work together to raise funds; to get the word out and get involved with nonprofits such as the MDI YMCA.”

As the flier encouraging BHMA members to participate in this fundraiser states, “the MDI YMCA is a leader in our community, promoting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”

More information about this program is available by going to www.barharbormerchants.com and clicking on Support the MDI YMCA with your Extra Change, or calling Doreen at 288-3511.

More information about the YMCA and its programs is available at mdiymca.org or by calling the number above.

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

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