Yarmouth High School senior Jane Fulton, third from left, has taken a lead role in organizing this year’s Day of Hope at the school to share ideas and show what people have in common in these divisive times. Contributed

YARMOUTH — As divisiveness and discord take over the political and cultural landscape and another hard-fought presidential election looms, it’s more important than ever for people to realize what they have in common, Yarmouth High School senior Jane Fulton believes.

That’s why she agreed to continue the Day of Hope event first started three years ago by another student at the school.

This year’s event will run from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Yarmouth High School. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at the door. All proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish Maine.

Fulton said the goal of the event is to help members of the community share ideas and “unite under common values” such as gratitude, positivity, and recognizing each other’s humanity.

She said Yarmouth alumni Sammy Potter began the Day of Hope in 2017 because he was concerned about how divided people have become.

At the time, Potter told The Forecaster “that hope is a relevant theme in the current turbulent political and cultural climate (and) … I wanted to do something that brought this spirit of having an open marketplace for ideas … to Maine.”

Potter described himself as an independent, although he interned for Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in Washington, D.C.

That’s where he met “a community of fellow interns who really represented a wide diversity of ideas and varying political opinions,” and who inspired him to create the initial Day of Hope.

According to Fulton, this year’s speakers were chosen because “they’re people who really inspire us.”

Presenting at the event will be Dennis Welsh, a locally-based commercial photographer who’s traveled the world; Amy Halsted, executive director of the Maine People’s Alliance; Christian Hayes, owner of The Garrison and Dandelion Catering Co., a local restaurant; and Kate Vickery, president and CEO of Make-a-Wish Maine.

The idea, Fulton said, is to select speakers from a wide cross-section of society, including public service, the arts, business, politics and more.

The first Day of Hope attracted more than 200 attendees and raised over $2,000 for the Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, the event website states. The second series brought in $1,200 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Maine.

And Fulton hopes this year’s slate of speakers will also draw a big crowd.

She said the timing of the event is key because it’s held right after Thanksgiving and just before the December holidays, when many people are thinking about gratitude, community and supporting each other.

Fulton said it’s important for the Day of Hope to remain a student-led event because “it’s all about making hopeful progress and improving the future.”

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