Marguerite Desrochers mends a toy  donated to the “Teddy Buddies” program she founded in 2012. To date, she has refurbished and distributed more than 12,000 toys to children in need around the world. Photo courtesy of Dave Guthro


Teddy Buddies program seeking toy donations

The “Teddy Buddies” program began in 2012 with a few basic repairs to one stuffed animal and the belief that every child should have toys to play with. Seven years later, the program’s founder, Marguerite Desrochers, has refurbished and distributed more than 12,000 toys to children in need around the world.

“We are all one family, one world,” said Desrochers, who last year prepared nearly 3,000 refurbished toys for distribution.

Some of the toys are donated through the Good Shepherd Parish in Saco and community members.

Desrochers washes and mends the toys to give them a fresh, new look before finding new homes for them. Every toy is individually wrapped in a plastic bag.

“I have toys in four bedrooms of my house,” said Desrochers, who also collects them from yard sales and receives them from individuals who drop them off by the bagful at her home.

Once wrapped, the toys are given to St. Louis Child Development Center, a childcare facility in Biddeford that is operated by Catholic Charities Maine; the Friends of Community Action Food Pantry, also in Biddeford; and Partners for World Health in Portland, which sends toys and stuffed animals to children in third world countries.

Desrochers distributes toys all year but always keeps a large pool of toys stored and ready for Christmas. She is currently looking for additional donations of toys or “fuzzy ambassadors of love” to fix up so that they can provide smiles to children in need at Christmas.

Desrochers accepts dolls, stuffed animals and toys, including board games, cars and trucks, books and puzzles. She also needs unscented laundry detergent and two-gallon plastic bags to help process and distribute them.

To donate supplies or for more details, call Marguerite at 282-1326 or reach her at


Groups join to deliver Veterans Day packages

Two Men and a Truck’s Portland-based moving company representative, Collin Bergeron, and Maine State Veterans Home representative Katie Berthiaume will partner to deliver 130 duffel bags to the Maine State Veterans Home at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The “big green duffels of cheer” will contain an embroidered blanket, a travel tumbler, puzzle and game books, convenience items and magazines for veterans to enjoy. The delivery is being organized in honor of Veterans Day and Military Appreciation Month.


Mid Coast Hunger Prevention gets grant

The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program has received a $2,500 grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and Varney & Co. Benefits Advisors. The grant will be used to help provide hungry people with access to the healthy food and meet the growing need to provide food to those within the community.


RSU 21 Village Fund gets $16,000 to feed students

The Friends of Maine Regional School Unit 21’s Village Fund recently received a $16,000 gift from the Webhannet Charitable Foundation to ensure that all students receive proper nutrition during the school day.

The Village Fund provides free or reduced breakfast and lunch items to the approximately 20 percent of students in the school system who do not qualify for free or reduced meals but still struggle to pay for meals.

RSU 21 Food & Nutrition Services director Ellen Demmons said she was “floored by the generosity of the donation,” that will ensure there is enough money available to help provide meals for students through the school year if needed.

Webhannet Charitable Foundation chair Michelle Davis said “our primary focus throughout the years has been Children First. As a child gets ready for school, they should be focusing on when they are going to get to see their friends, play on the playground and wonder what their teacher will share with them that day. No child should have to face the day hungry and not know when they are going to get to eat.”

Twelve of the 19 Ledgemere bus drivers who transport Wells-Ogunquit Community School District students throughout the school year were honored this week for their faithful service to students. From left are Tammy Bissell, Paul Littlefield, Cassie Durham, Connie Hilton, Bill Grant, Jean LaRiviere, Maurice Viollette, Gene Sledzieski, Christine Towne, Rochelle Greenwood, Tabitha Bergeron and Lauren Clark. Photo courtesy of Reg Bennett


School bus drivers honored for their work

Bus drivers who transport kindergarten through grade 12 students in the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District recently were recognized for their work and dedication during School Bus Driver Appreciation Week. On an average day, the 19 drivers transport about 800 students hundreds of miles.

The drivers received gift bags that included personalized cards of appreciation from elementary students and Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards. They were also served a Monday breakfast and a Friday lunch, with food donated by parents of students and Hannaford in Wells. And they were greeted with “Thank You” signs along their bus routes. This annual event is sponsored by the PTSA at Wells Elementary School, with Nicole Iannillo and Kelli Madsen heading the parent organization’s Bus Driver Appreciation Week committee.

“It feels nice to be acknowledged,” commented longtime bus driver Paul Littlefield. “Getting students on and off the bus can be tricky sometimes – especially on busy roads. Safety is always the top priority. The cards and treats from the kids and PTSA are great!”


Students to join Climate Lobby, meet delegation

Ten students from the Portland area, Dover and Waldoboro will join older volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby to meet with elected officials on Capitol Hill regarding climate change legislation. The students, ages 9-18, will participate in training on Monday in preparation for the Tuesday meetings with Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Chellie Pingree, Rep. Jared Golden, and members of Sen. Angus King’s staff. Senator King has also invited the students to join him the following morning for blueberry muffins.

These students share a passion for spending time outdoors, concerns for the earth’s climate and a personal responsibility to take charge and bring awareness to the need for immediate federal action on climate control.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby advocates for a carbon fee and dividend, specifically the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, that puts a fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. It starts low and grows over time. It aims to drive down carbon pollution by pushing energy companies, industries and consumers to move toward cleaner, cheaper options. The money collected from the carbon fee would be allocated in equal shares every month to the American people to spend as they see fit.

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Bank donation supports programming for girls

Camden National Bank has donated $15,000 to the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute to support programming for Maine high school girls. And, seven Camden National Bank employees are now serving as Olympia’s Leaders Advisors, working with 70 high school girls across the state throughout the three-year program. In total this year, the Institute will serve 540 young women from 36 partner schools across all 16 counties.

“Camden National Bank is incredibly proud to support the Institute and its work to build strong, courageous female leaders,” said Joanne Campbell, regional OLA for the institute and executive vice president, risk management at Camden National Bank. “We are also very proud of our passionate employees who have been selected to serve as OLAs and play a direct role in shaping the learning and leadership growth of Maine girls.”

The mission of OSWLI is to raise the confidence and aspirations of high school girls by helping them develop the skills required to be leaders in their lives, families, careers and communities.

Olympia’s Leaders will receive close to 10,000 hours of mentoring from OLAs and program guests over the course of the 2019-20 academic year.

This fall, more than 96 percent of Olympia’s Leaders in the Class of 2019 began higher education or training and certificate-bearing programs, while others pursued gap years or immediately entered the workforce. More than 60 percent of graduates matriculated to Maine institutions.

The institute’s inaugural class, which graduated last June, reported that the program impacted their leadership ability – with 100 percent reporting that the Institute improved their understanding of their value system and confidence.

From right, Harold Porter, Steve Mallon, Rotary President Diane Gerry, Barbara Sutcliffe, Neal Meltzer, John Carmahalis and Andy Orazio participate in trail building work at the Hall Reserve in Springvale. Photo courtesy of Kevin McKeon


Volunteers chip in to improve trail system

On a recent Saturday morning, volunteers from the Sanford/Springvale Rotary Club and the Sanford/Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust teamed up to install improvements on a trail that follows the western shore of Deering Pond, located at the trust’s Hall Reserve.

The team worked on three bridges and two boardwalks to help keep walkers’ feet dry during their walks through the historic area, located just a few of miles from Springvale Square.

The Rotary Foundation awarded their local club a grant that will also be used to install new trailhead signs and nature interpretative placards along the trail, and a colorful brochure to inform visitors about the area. The trust thanked the Rotary Club for their initiative in this community-oriented collaborative effort to build civic awareness and outdoor public activities.

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