by Ardeana Hamlin
of The Weekly Staff
WINTERPORT — When members of Argonne Post 138 of the American Legion holds its annual manure sale 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Winterport Fire Station, it will be conducting a rite of spring the club established five or so years ago.
“We were trying to raise money, hashing over things — sell T-shirts, sell hats — and looking and looking [for ways to raise funds],” said Jim Foley of Winterport, who serves as post chaplain and has been a post member for 46 years, ever since he was 19 years old and serving in the U.S. Navy. “So I said, let’s sell poop. They all thought I’d lost my mind.”
But once it was determined that there was access to aged manure, and that all the post members had to do was bag it and offer it for purchase, it was agreed that it was a good idea. “There’s work, but no [upfront] money involved,” Foley said. “It’s all profit.”
The manure for the sale is sourced from a local farm that raises cows. “We barter,”Foley said. “A load of manure for a load of gravel. Then we screen it to remove sticks and stuff.”
Each year, gardeners purchase approximately 200 bags of the manure, each weighing at least 50 pounds, at a cost of $5 each, which nets the post approximately $1,000 for its charity work, Foley said. Those funds support Boys State and Little League baseball and provide a $500 scholarship for a Winterport student who graduates from Hampden Academy.
“I truly believe in the American Legion, what they do and what they stand for,” Foley said. “What little part we can do is good.”
Foley’s American Legion involvement also extends beyond Maine. During the winter, he volunteers as a shuttlebus driver at a VA hospital in Florida, where he is one of 1,500 volunteers. “When you go home at night, you can say, this is what it’s all about, it’s so satisfying. Veterans are amazing people and they have amazing stories,” he said.
Boy Scout Troop 234 will be on hand at the manure sale to help with the heavy lifting. “The troop has been a great help to the American Legion,” Foley said. “They help bag, help carry bags to the cars of the buyers. They also have a fundraiser the same day. They do whatever we ask. They are great kids.”
Foley said, “We can take orders if you can’t come to the sale. We don’t deliver, but pickup can be arranged.”
The Argonne Post 138 was established in the World War I era. Its name comes from the fact that many of the soldiers from Winterport, Frankfort and Monroe fought in the Argonne Forest in France during the war. Post members meet at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Victoria Grant Civic Center at Abbott Park at the end of Park Drive in Winterport.
For information about the sale, to place an order for bags of manure, or to inquire about becoming a post member, call Foley at 223-4960 and leave a message.