You’ve been flocked for a good cause; People uplifted by flamingo sightings

Casco resident Barbara York writes a check to get rid of the plethora of pink flamingos on her lawn. The harmless prank is a fundraiser for the Casco Village Church United Church of Christ’s youth group, which is planning a mission to Guatemala in 2015. (De Busk Photo)

Casco resident Barbara York writes a check to get rid of the plethora of pink flamingos on her lawn. The harmless prank is a fundraiser for the Casco Village Church United Church of Christ’s youth group, which is planning a mission to Guatemala in 2015. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Pink flamingos are traveling in flocks, hanging out in homeowners’ yards for a 48-hour period, and then mysteriously disappearing.

Sharlene Spalding, who lives in Casco Village, was the first person to spot the typically tropical birds.

Then, Barbara York got a kick out of seeing the hot pink birds peering curiously at her wooden deer statue. Quite a few people were rubber-necking when they passed York’s home off Route 121.

A couple returned from a week-long vacation in Texas only to discover that about three dozen flamingos had taken up residence all over the lawn of their property on Edwards Road.

On Father’s Day, the flamingo flock provided a nice surprise for Mel and Eunice Long, the owners of Baker’s Dozen.

Before anyone calls animal control, let it be known: The birds are plastic lawn ornaments. The fowls’ presence is part of a fundraiser for Starburst High School Youth Group.

The youth group, which is affiliated with Casco Village Church United Church of Christ, is fundraising for a mission to Guatemala in February.

According to Rev. Joyce Long, the ten high school students plan to participate in the Safe Passage program during February break next year. The program was started by Hanley Denning, who grew up in Yarmouth and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1992. While visiting Guatemala to improve her Spanish, she witnessed the children working in the Guatemala City garbage dump each day to collect items to sell on the streets.

The next day, Denning sold her computer and her car and used those funds to start a school.

Denning died in a car wreck in 2007, but Safe Passage has continued to operate.

“We are also sponsoring a girl, Maria Gonzalez Lux. She is the same age as our students who are going over there,” Long said.

Lux had a birthday in June, and the youth group sent her a birthday package. Lux mailed them a homemade thank you card created from construction paper.

“At all of our church suppers, the kids have been doing the 50-50 raffle, and that money goes toward sponsoring Maria. We sponsor her for $50 a month,” Long said.

“When we go to Guatemala, we will be able to meet her,” she said, adding this makes the journey much more tangible for the students.

Three adults will accompany the ten members of the youth group.

“Some of the kids have been coming to the church for their whole life,” Long said.

Now, they are working hard to save money for the trip of a lifetime.

In addition to the flamingo fundraiser, which is called flocking, the students have helped with odd jobs from stacking wood to raking leaves.

“We are working. Anyone who needs help with their yard contacts me. I post those jobs through the e-mail and the kids go with their parents to do the work,” she said.

“It gives them a better appreciation of money. For the work jobs, they don’t want to rake. The parents have to kick in there, and rake with them. I really admire them that they have stepped up. It is really good,” Long said.

By Wednesday, the pink flamingos will be parked at the Four Seasons Campground in Naples, she said.

It costs $15 to flock people. The youth group also accepts donations from flamingo recipients to have the birds removed from their yards, she said.

The flock stays for about 48 hours, “because we have lots of people waiting,” Long said.

The pink flamingo fundraiser was the brainchild of a grandparent of a youth group member. That person is Patsy Jordan Long — no relation to the church’s reverend.

“She thinks up the best fundraisers ever,” Long said.

The youth group will be advertising its flocking fundraiser at the church’s huge flea market on the second Saturday in July.

“At the flea market, we will be selling ice cream products. We are going to have four different novelty bars. It is usually a hot, hot day,” she said.

The other fundraiser is to sell shares in the mission project. For $10, they will take photos of the group in Guatemala and make them into postcards and mail postcards when they return.

“That is our ‘thank you’ for buying a share in the mission trip,” she said.

“This is our first time doing a big mission trip. That is the idea, to keep the mission group going. Next year, we will do one locally around the state, and then we will do one in another state,” she said.

“Every year where kids can learn about the rest of the nation and the rest of the world,” Long said.

“Truly helping your neighbor — that is part of the commandments: To love God, and to love your neighbor,” she said.

The concept of the youth group is “to foster passion in the young teens for life and for the world,” Long said.

To participate in the flocking or donate to the mission trip to Guatemala, call the Casco Village Church United Church of Christ at 627-4287.

 

 

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