CUMBERLAND — The Cumberland Wood Bank, which helps those in need stay warm, has launched a campaign to raise $20,000 this year to continue that work.

The bank provides firewood to needy area families. In addition, money raised from selling wood to those who can afford it goes toward purchasing fuel for people in need who cannot burn wood.

Now the bank is raising funds to buy items like a wood processor, bulk bagger and dump trailer, as well as to purchase reserve log inventory.

The equipment is intended to help boost safety and retain volunteers by reducing the risk of injury, improve the efficiency of processing and delivery, reduce waste, and produce a higher-quality product, according to Bruce Wildes, who chairs the committee that collects, processes and delivers the wood.

The work currently strains the volunteer commitment, and demand well exceeds the bank’s existing capacity, he said.

“My goal with the equipment is to use (it) to help other nearby communities to be able to establish their own wood banks,” Wildes said Tuesday.

Diane Bennekamper, pastor of the Cumberland Congregational Church, works with the town to allocate the wood and money to people in need throughout the Cumberland area.

Last year the bank processed more than 35 cords of wood, all of which was donated, and supplied $9,100 in assistance to 30 area homes. Ninety percent of recipients are not affiliated with the church.

More than 30 people volunteer time or equipment in the effort, which provided $1,000 in fuel during the first half of this month.

About 80 percent of the bank’s donations have come from people with no affiliation to the church, hailing from communities as far away as Bath, Sanford and Auburn.

The bank currently has no dry wood available, Wildes said.

He hopes to raise the $20,000 by the end of June, primarily through grants, matching contributions, and corporate and individual donations.

Those interested in volunteering, donating wood or buying wood can reach Wildes at 370-8210 or [email protected]. People in need can call Bennekamper at 829-3419.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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