Showing the Spirit of the Season

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. This is a time for giving and sharing and looking out for those less fortunate than one’s self.

Unfortunately, with the continued problems in the economy, there are still too many people who need help.  Maine people have a long tradition of helping their neighbors, though. According to the national organization “Volunteering in America” Maine is ranked fourth in the nation for volunteer hours per resident, with an average of 46.7 hours. Mainers contributed over $1 billion in services from 2008 to 2010. From fuel assistance for the family home, to food aid or even a place to stay for those who have nowhere else to go, I am proud to say that we are willing to do what is necessary to give help and hope to those in our community in need. If you are interested in helping out, I’ve got some suggestions for where you can turn to offer your time. It doesn’t have to be much. Remember, for someone who is having a rough time even the smallest, simplest kindness can make a huge difference.

To start with, there is Volunteer Maine. They provide a statewide clearinghouse to search or post volunteer programs. You can find hundreds of local volunteer opportunities such as working on a domestic violence helpline, volunteering with the Red Cross or helping out a hospice center. Just check their website at: www.volunteermaine.org

If you are interested in helping provide for someone’s holiday meal, the Maine Department of Agriculture offers a list of food assistance programs in each county, with contact information for making a donation. Click on the “Emergency Food Assistance” tab on the www.maine.gov/agriculture/co website for contact information on individual food programs.

With the poor economy and the high cost of fuel, many families will be struggling to stay warm this winter. The Keep ME Warm Fund is a statewide fund, administered by the Maine Community Action Association, which provides fuel assistance for families at, or below, 80% of the local median income. Donations made from individuals, businesses, and foundations are redistributed to families throughout Maine. More information can be found at: www.mainecommunityaction.org

If you are in need of assistance, there is a resource for you as well. 2-1-1 Maine provides a statewide directory of health, social, and human service resources. Just dial “2-1-1” or visit www.211maine.org and you can get information on a wide range of issues varying from energy assistance, home care, emergency shelter, veterans services, child care, flu shot locations, consumer help, disability services, transportation, and more.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And if you have time, try to help out those who need it. They will appreciate it, and it will make you feel better as well. If I can be of any help to you, please feel free to call me at the State House at 287-1515 or visit my website, www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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