This is the time of year when heating assistance funds across the state start to run low, which is why Landing Real Estate organized a first-time fundraiser called Hops for Heat, hosted at Fore River Brewing Co. in South Portland on Feb 23.

“It was a great success for us, for this being year one, to be able to get that many people in one room for one cause,” said Joe Hezlep, director of operations at Landing Real Estate. “We put this together in six weeks.”

The low-key evening of networking and beer, with a 50/50 and other raffles, started out with the goal of raising about $2,500 for Keep ME Warm. But the final total was closer to $4,500 for the statewide partnership of United Way agencies and community action programs that provide emergency heating assistance to low-income families.

“Landing Real Estate prides ourselves on giving back to the community as often as possible,” said co-owner Lisa DiBiase, including volunteering and fundraising for United Way and Habitat for Humanity. “And each of our agents also does additional volunteering where they choose.”

“This is great because it’s a statewide fund,” said Kathy Leddy, senior relationship manager at United Way of Greater Portland. “Many of these local Realtors also did Hands Across the Cove, which raised funds for the United Way of Greater Portland.”

The 50/50 winner, Randy Forcier of Norcom Mortgage in Saco, donated the cash back to Keep ME Warm. “I thought the money would be best spent that way, to help people who need heat,” he said.

“This is a huge turnout. I am taken aback by how many people are here,” said Juliann Simonton, marketing director at Red Door Title, one of the event sponsors. “But there are thousands of people in the state who need heat.”

“It’s nice to give back and support a local business,” said Jane Barriault of Market Street Settlement Group, one of the event sponsors. “And it’s fun.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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