BANGOR, Maine — When the owner of Fork & Spoon arrived at her downtown eatery early Thursday, she found something in her window that stopped her in her tracks — a note of thanks.
“I found these cute little stickers that said, ‘gratitude,’” Elisabeth Dean said as she stood with a cup of hot cocoa in her hand during a Day of Thanks event hosted by the United Way of Eastern Maine Thursday afternoon in West Market Square. “I was so intrigued by that sentiment, which is often forgotten this time of year, I came down.”
Every year, thousands of people in Maine reach into their pockets or volunteer to help their neighbors through the United Way and other organizations with similar goals, and the group just wanted to show its appreciation, said Jesse Moriarity, vice president of resource development and communications for the area United Way.
“We have 5,000 donors and … it’s a way to say, ‘Thank you,’” she said.
United Way of Eastern Maine is a nonprofit organization that leads collaborative community initiatives, promotes volunteerism and supports dozens of health and human service programs in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Washington counties.
“We’ve been out since 5 o’clock this morning,” Moriarity said.
Volunteers started the Day of Thanks delivering thank you notes, stickers and signs to local businesses and shops who support them, then headed to Eastern Maine Medical Center for the 7 a.m. shift change where they handed out chocolate candies called “Hugs” to nurses, doctors and other staff “for the invaluable work they do.”
“We gave out a lot of real hugs, too,” Moriarity said.
Teams of volunteers and partnering agencies throughout the five counties covered by the United Way of Eastern Maine spent the day doing random acts of kindness. For example, Bangor Y staffers spent hours making cookies that they delivered to businesses; school children in Old Town were given tours of businesses; and volunteers gathered in Bangor’s West Market Square at 12:30 p.m. to hand out hot chocolate donated by Tim Hortons and cookies provided by McDonald’s, Moriarty said.
“It’s been really fun,” she said.
The group also held a Day of Thanks last year.
“It’s good to celebrate in downtown Bangor,” Dean said, just before the volunteers started Christmas caroling.