BRIDGTON — Early on Sunday morning, Bridgton resident Laura McCabe  logged onto the “Community of Bridgton, Maine” Facebook group and posted a call to action.

“Let’s all help each other out,” she wrote. “I’d like to start a ‘help your neighbor post.’ I don’t have a lot but I’m willing to help anyone in need with what I do have.”

Since state officials on March 12 announced the first positive case in Maine of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, shoppers have cleared the shelves of many items in supermarkets, big box stores and drugstores. And with the number of cases continuing to rise, some Lakes Region residents worry that they won’t be able to find essential supplies, especially for families with young children and the elderly.

McCabe and other like-minded residents in the Lakes Region have stepped up to help.

Within a couple of hours of McCabe’s post, other community members responded with offers to pitch in. McCabe continued to post community needs to the Facebook group, like those of an elderly woman whose family was out of town and needed toilet paper.

Her request was filled within four minutes.


As of Tuesday morning, McCabe told Lakes Region Weekly that she’s helped eight families and was filling the needs of four more families that she heard from that morning.

Joanne Vail, who helps run the food pantry at the Casco Village Church, said they’ve had to change their routine to ensure the safety of their volunteers and patrons. For their once-monthly food pantry, Vail said that instead of inviting the 50 or so families to choose their own food and pack it themselves, volunteers are pre-assembling boxes according to family size to hand out to families at a pre-specified time.

Vail said that of the usual 16 volunteers, most of them retired, six had already called her to say they weren’t comfortable helping out because of their age or preexisting conditions, or both.

That being said, she’s seen many younger members of the church reach out to elderly members to check in on them and offer to help them out by cooking meals or running errands.

“Overall, I think people are more in-tune with what’s going on,” Vail said in a phone interview. “It’s an odd situation that hopefully won’t last too long.”

Jenea Eide of Windham, who works at the Shaw’s in Westbrook, said she’s seen both the positive and negative in people in recent days.


“Working at Shaw’s has been crazy. The first week has been nuts. The whole store has been disheveled (and) employees are getting low,” she told the Lakes Region Weekly via Facebook message Wednesday.

But amid the madness, she’s seen acts of kindness.

“Some have been helpful (by paying) for someone else’s groceries when short on funds. I have seen a man pay for an older woman’s paper goods: TP, paper towels, and so on,” she said.

“I have seen customers help bag groceries for each other. Customers even help us cashiers and baggers when (there’s) not enough to bag large orders,” she said.

The First Congregational Church of Gray posted that a number of their members were willing to run errands for whoever needed it, for whatever purpose, and make deliveries right to people’s doors.

Emily Frawley posted Monday morning to the “Windham Maine Community Board” group that she had been all over looking for toilet paper for her mom, who didn’t want to be out in public right now.

“I’d gladly share a roll – don’t have much but can share a few here and there,” responded Stephen Bailey.

Shannon Withers Johnson offered to give Frawley a few rolls from an Amazon delivery she was receiving later that day. When another community member praised her for her generosity, she simply responded, “We got to take care of each other right now.”

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