Residents in the Penquis region are known for their generosity, especially at Christmas.
This year has been no different.
An anonymous donor gave the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce 20 $100 gift certificates for fuel, and residents in other communities have donated what they could to make the holiday happier for those less fortunate.
The Salvation Army also contributed items to each of the local giving programs.
Spearheaded by such groups as Kiwanis clubs and local welfare departments, giving to low-income families has involved clothing and toys. Some of the clubs also provided food baskets to families and the elderly.
"I think there's more of a need out there with the cost of fuel so high," Linda Clukey, Dexter's welfare director, said Friday. Her office, which coordinates the area's Toys for Tots program, served 100 children this year, an increase of 20 from last year.
While the town concentrated on the children, the local Sunshine Club of Dexter donated gifts, food, clothing and toys to families and seniors in need.
Clukey said clubs and individuals donate money each year to her department for the Christmas program.
Armed with a list of names of needy children, their sizes and Christmas wishes, she and Jean Edgerly make the purchases and the parents pick the items up at the municipal building and wrap them.
"It just gives me a really good feeling thinking that these children might not have a Christmas if it wasn't for us and all the other people who donate; it gives you a real good Christmas spirit," Clukey said.
Her sentiments were echoed throughout the region. Gayle Watson of the Guilford Area Kiwanis Club said her organization provided for children in SAD 4. This year, 148 kids received presents, 16 more than last year.
While the need is greater, Watson said, donations were actually down, a fact she attributed to high fuel costs.
Hardwood Products, Interface Fabrics, Maine Highlands Credit Union, the local American Legion, local all-terrain vehicle clubs, Pleasant Meadows and River Bend Homes all contributed greatly to the effort. She said the Kiwanis Club also donated its proceeds from its annual walkathon.
In Dover-Foxcroft, about 75 children have gifts under their trees thanks to the local Kiwanis Club. Lilly Weatherbee, chairman of the Christmas program, said clothing and toys were purchased and were given to parents for wrapping.
"We've had some good donations and some unexpected donations," Weatherbee said Friday.
The Secret Santa program organized by the Three Rivers Kiwanis Club in the Milo-Brownville area helped 147 children and 59 families this year, according to Murrel Harris, program coordinator.
Businesses, organizations and the United Baptist Church donated funds for clothing, food and toys. Harris said Ron Bolduc of Brownville donated four boxes of handmade wooden toys to the project.
The Moosehead Lake Kiwanis Club donated gifts and food baskets to about 25 families and 15 seniors in the Greenville, Monson, Shirley and Rockwood areas, according to Diane Bartley, who coordinated the Christmas program with Jaci Gaudet.
Bartley said residents typically rally around to help others in the community. She said the donation of gift certificates for fuel was totally unexpected.
"We are amazed at how generous people are in the community," Bartley said.
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