The threat of heavy rain and strong winds could not deter more than 100 people with warm hearts who walked through Windham to help Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

“It didn’t rain at all,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland, one of the founders of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. “In fact, it started sprinkling just as we finished the walk.”

While Neighbors Helping Neighbors volunteers are still counting the cash earned over the weekend, Diamond said they were approaching their goal of raising $20,000 to provide assistance for residents facing high fuel bills this winter.

“We don’t know if we are going to make it, but we’re off to a good start,” he said.

The walkers lined up at Windham High School Saturday morning to take the three-mile stroll and earn pledges for the organization, founded last year to help residents who find themselves in critical need of such items as food and heating oil. Around 70 individual and business sponsors gave $100 or more to the effort, and the walkers themselves raised money.

“We really did fantastically well,” said organizer Sandra Bois. With heating now costing approximately $1 a gallon more than last year, when concern over fuel costs led to the formation of Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Bois said the group will need every cent it can raise. “We’re not through yet,” she vowed.

It was a total community effort, with a number of groups taking it upon themselves to build support for the organization, Bois said. Five women from the Windham High School Class of 1971 joined together for the walk-a-thon, she said.

“We got pledges from around the country because they e-mailed their former classmates,” said Bois.

“The Fab Five from ’71” plan to walk in the event again next year, and bring some other Windham graduates along with them.

“Next year they’ll challenge other graduating classes at Windham High to get them to come to do the same thing,” said Diamond.

Eliza Adams, a health teacher at Windham Middle School, brought along two of her classes. The eighth-grade students led the walk, holding the Neighbors Helping Neighbors banner at the head of the procession.

“They raised $910,” said Bois. “They ought to be commended for giving up their time.”

Last winter, in the organization’s first year, Neighbors Helping Neighbors came to the aid of 32 Windham residents. This year, as need increases and more people find out about the group, they expect more calls.

“I’m anticipating we’re going to get a lot more requests,” said Diamond. “We’re the last resort. We’re kind of a safety net.”

Five women from the Windham High School Class of 1971 joined together for the Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors Walk-a-thon, a three-mile event held last Saturday that raised money to provide emergency assistance to residents.


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