Anna and Bill Gallant, owners of Mail-It Unlimited in Kennebunk, are taking the annual fundraiser to benefit COS of the Kennebunks and the Animal Welfare Society, online.

KENNEBUNK – When circumstances put a damper on activities in the community, like an a highly-visible annual benefit drive, people search out alternatives.

That is what is happening with the 2021 Mail-It Unlimited drive to benefit two local nonprofits – Community Outreach Services of the Kennebunks and the Animal Welfare Society.

The annual event has been hosted by store owners Bill and Anna Gallant for many years. It has always taken place this time of year, said Bill, marking the anniversary of their opening their new store 33 years ago. There has been much fanfare in the past, with a police-escorted UPS truck delivering the proceeds to the two agencies at the end of the  drive.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic.

The couple decided to go ahead – in another way – and took the drive online. The event runs from Thursday, Feb. 25 through March 7.

“We’re trying to link people directly to the two websites,” said Bill in a recent telephone conversation.

He said the store, at Shoppers Village, will remain a repository for checks, cash or gift cards for people who want to make a contribution, but are uncomfortable conducting online transactions.

Bill Gallant said, with the online option, folks who summer in the Kennebunk area will have a direct way to help their neighbors.

Mail It Unlimited has pledged to match total donations to each organization up to $1,000.

Past drives have brought up memories for the Gallants, whose late golden retriever, Allie, who came to the store with Bill daily for many years, became a spokes dog of sorts. Bill would often author Facebook posts featuring Allie during the  events. The couple continues to host the fundraiser in her memory.

Mark Jago, executive director of Community Outreach Services, said he expects increases in usage of the agency’s food pantry at 19 Park St., in the spring.

“We are so grateful for our many volunteers who serve each day at our food pantry and for our awesome supporters who partner with us to bring food, fuel and specific needs to our neighbors in need during these challenging times,” said Jago.

“We count on support from a whole variety of sources, but there is nothing as meaningful as support that comes from the community we are here to serve,” said Animal Welfare Society executive director Abigail Smith. “It makes us feel like the work we’re doing here is important and valued.

“People in the Kennebunks love their pets and the donations we receive from them will really go a long way in helping us care for animals at the Animal Welfare Society, especially this year. Many thanks to Bill, all the folks at Mail-It Unlimited and their many loyal customers for helping us help pets.”

To make a contribution to Community Outreach Services, visit  www.coskennebunks.org/support . To contribute to Animal Welfare Society, visit www.animalwelfaresociety.org/give.

The Gallants say their goal is to make a big impact, and ask that contributors to the two organizations, mention the Mail-It Unlimited drive when donations are made.

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